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More Than 16 Million Pounds of Trash Collected During International Coastal Cleanup

WASHINGTON, DC,, May 19, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The total number of trash items picked up during the 29th year of Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup, 15 million items weighing more than 16 million pounds, is the most ever collected in the event's history, according to a report released today. This year-over-year growth, along with recent scientific studies on the estimated amount of debris found in the ocean and projected growth of the problem as more countries increase their use of disposable plastic goods, has catalyzed Ocean Conservancy, corporate partners, scientists and other NGOs to work together on a targeted effort to better understand the major pollution pathways to the ocean, in order to stop trash at its source.

The data were collected on September 20 during the 2014 International Coastal Cleanup, the largest annual volunteer effort aimed at improving the health of the ocean. The report and the information it contains is a celebration of a truly international volunteer effort to rid the world's beaches of trash and debris: On September 20, 2014, 561,895 volunteers from around the world removed 16,186,759 pounds (7,357,617 kg) of trash from the shorelines of beaches and waterways, as well as from the water. They did this by walking, paddling, and swimming 13,359 miles (21,499 km) of shores, waterways, and underwater habitats.

Despite the hard work of volunteers, plastic and trash continues to enter the ocean. Ocean Conservancy's Trash Free Seas Alliance® is an effort that includes partners from industry, government, NGOs and public interest organizations working together to identify ways to stop land-based trash from ever reaching the ocean. Scientists have identified that by improving waste management and collection in the 20 countries where the mismatch between plastic consumption and mismanaged waste is greatest, we can reduce by 2025 the amount of plastic entering the ocean by more than 40%.

"As we look at the staggering numbers in this International Coastal Cleanup data report and the evidence it provides on the ever-growing amount of ocean trash that degrades our quality of life, and endangers marine wildlife and fish habitat, we are ready to turn a new page on this global problem. We owe it to the more than 11 million people who have volunteered over the last three decades in cleaning up their beloved shorelines," said Andreas Merkl, Ocean Conservancy's CEO. "Ocean Conservancy is ready to roll up its sleeves and work with industry, government, scientists and public interest groups to craft new solutions that go straight to the source, stopping trash on land from every reaching the ocean. 2015 will be the year people will say we turned the tide on trash."

During the 2014 Cleanup:
• The total global trash weight collected is equivalent to 52,215 NFL linemen.
• More than enough lids for all of the students at Ohio State University to keep their coffee hot every day of spring finals.
• Enough bottle caps to cover 7 tennis courts.
• Cigarette butts were the most common item found, with more than 2 million collected.

"The International Coastal Cleanup and this report is a wake-up call as it represents only a fraction of the total amount of trash that will reach the ocean, endangering dolphins, whales and other marine mammals this year," said Nicholas Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy's Trash Free Seas program. "Ocean trash is more than an eye sore. It threatens ocean animals, fisheries and tourism globally. Big thanks go out to the millions of volunteers who have turned out because they care about their backyard beach. And as a testament to the hours of work that ICC volunteers and coordinators have dedicated to this problem, Ocean Conservancy recognizes that we need to stop ocean trash at its source, on land – before it ever reaches the ocean."

The Cleanup is part of Ocean Conservancy's larger strategy for Trash Free Seas and is one of the many ways the organization is joining with others to help find answers and solutions to address existing ocean trash and eventually stop its flow into the ocean.

Additional descriptions of items found, infographics, including the "Top 10 Items Found," and state-specific information are available online at http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/international-coastal-cleanup/.

The next International Coastal Cleanup will take place on September 19, 2015. It will be the 30th anniversary of the world's largest beach cleanup and citizen trash monitoring effort.

Partners:
The Coca-Cola Company has supported Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup for the past 19 years. Last year, Coca-Cola activated a global employee engagement campaign to encourage participation in the Cleanup -- more than 7,000 Coca-Cola system associates volunteered along with their friends and families, cleaning more than 150,000 pounds of trash. As part of its commitment to address global climate change, Bank of America has supported the Cleanup since 2002, with thousands of employees participating in Cleanup events all around the world. Other national sponsors include National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hollomon Price Foundation, Altria Group, Inc., Cox Enterprises, The Dow Chemical Company, Landshark Lager, Glad and Brunswick Public Foundation.

Ocean Conservancy educates and empowers citizens to take action on behalf of the ocean. From the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico to the halls of Congress, Ocean Conservancy brings people together to find solutions for our water planet. Informed by science, our work guides policy and engages people in protecting the ocean and its wildlife for future generations. For more information, please visit www.oceanconservancy.org.

CONTACT: Julia Roberson, Ocean Conservancy jroberson@oceanconservancy.org, 202-351-0476 Nicole Lampe, Resource Media Nicole@resource-media.org, 415-341-4521Source:Ocean Conservancy