Cape Town – Broken down plastic pieces, foam pieces, cigarette butts, bottle caps, food wrappers, glass pieces, beverage bottles, straws and lolly sticks continue to be the biggest pollutants on our country’s beaches.
This is according to the recently released results of the 2018 International Coastal Clean-up on September15.
Plastics SA sustainability manager and Western Cape ICC co-ordinator of the annual event, John Kieser, said volunteers had been part of the event for more than 20 years.
“Thousands of South African volunteers have been joining the rest of the world on the third Saturday of September to remove, collect and document the litter from our country’s coastlines.
“During the 2018 event, 19563 volunteers collected 241425 items nationally in audited clean-ups along the country’s 2500km long coastline,” Kieser said.
“Asthma pumps were the most prolific medical items found in the three Cape provinces, while in Kwazulu-Natal (especially in urban clean-ups) it was disposable syringes.
"The main cause of litter on our beaches and in the marine environment is irresponsible human behaviour.
“The improper disposal of waste and a lack of waste management infrastructure are the two biggest issues that need to be addressed and corrected.”
Kieser added that the increase in the number of disposable diapers found illegally dumped, especially around informal settlements, was another area of concern, while nationally, about 2.5km of rope/string and 2.8km of monofilament line (fishing line) were also removed from the beaches.
Through its active involvement each year, the plastics and packaging industry has shown that its concern for marine litter is not just an awareness project, but a passion that transforms actions into words, Kieser said.
However, their work is not limited to one day of the year. Several weeks are spent on pre-event logistics (such as distributing bags, gloves and other support material) to 400 co-ordinators nationwide and 50000 refuse bags were distributed during September.
“It is encouraging to see how each year’s International Coastal Clean-up continues to grow in terms of the number of volunteers participating and number of beach clean-ups."