Tracking Trash: 25 Years of Action for the Ocean (ICC Report 2011)

Washington, DC: Ocean Conservancy is releasing today a new report titled “Tracking Trash: 25 Years of Action for the Ocean.” This milestone report compiles data and stories about trash in the ocean, known as marine debris, for every participating state and country, collected from 2010 and as well as 25 years of International Coastal Cleanups—the largest volunteer effort for the ocean.

The report also highlights solutions from individuals to inspire behavior change and from companies to accelerate product innovation.

With this report, Ocean Conservancy is expanding its efforts from an annual cleanup day to a year round campaign for “Trash Free Seas”.

“Images of entangled birds, turtles choking on plastic bags and floating trash have become all too familiar,” said Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of Ocean Conservancy. “You name it, we have found it on the beach and in the water. We find beach litter like cigarette butts and plastic bags, toilet seats, washing machines, abandoned fishing gear—even the proverbial kitchen sink.”

“For twenty-five years we have watched as trash has threatened ocean wildlife and ecosystems; and undermined tourism and economic activity. We’ve seen more trash to clean up, but we’ve also seen more people inspired to be part of the solution.”

“Our vision is for Trash Free Seas,” said Spruill. “This problem is preventable, and keeping our ocean free from trash is one of the easiest ways we can make the ocean more resilient. From product design to trash disposal, we all have a role to play.”

Highlighted Findings from 2010 Coastal Cleanups

  • During the 25th annual Cleanup in 2010, over six hundred thousand (615,407) people removed more than eight million (8,698,572) pounds of trash.
  • In 2010, volunteers collected enough tires to outfit almost fifty-five hundred (5,464) cars.
  • In 2010 the amount of cigarettes/cigarette butts collected is equal to nearly ninety-five thousand (94,626) packs of cigarettes.
  • The eight million pounds of trash collected during the 2010 Cleanup would cover about 170 football fields.

Highlighted Results from the Past 25 Years of Cleanups

  • Fifty-three million cigarettes/cigarette filters that have been found would fill 100 Olympic-size swimming pools.
  • Appliances collected over 25 years of Cleanups (117,356) would fill 32,600 dump trucks.
  • Over 863 thousand (863,135) diapers would be enough to put one on every child born in the UK last year.
  • Over the past 25 years, more than eight and a half million (8,763,377) volunteers have removed one hundred and forty-five million (144,606,491) pounds of trash in 152 countries and locations.
  • Volunteers have collected enough cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons over 25 years to host a picnic for 2 million people.

Ocean Conservancy is building a new Trash Free Seas Alliance to bring people together to find solutions. Ocean Conservancy welcomes industries, communities and governments to collaborate on innovative ways to secure a future of Trash Free Seas.

Graphics, photos and video for media reports are available at