The 2016 Ocean Trash Index – what 800,000 volunteers in 92 countries generated during ICCS2015!

More than eight million kilograms of trash was collected by nearly 800,000 volunteers in 92 countries during Ocean Conservancy’s 2015 International Coastal Cleanup. The data is reported in Ocean Conservancy’s 2016 Ocean Trash Index which was released yesterday which you can access at

Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean Trash Index is the world’s largest item-by-item, location-by-location database of trash found in near-shore environments, representing the efforts of more than 11.5 million volunteers over 30 years!

The solid pollutant of greatest concern in the marine environment is plastic waste with the top five most commonly collected items being cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and plastic straws. This pattern is true of Singapore, but we see our list topped by expanded polystyrene (EPS) or styrofoam pieces.

2016 Ocean Trash Top 10

Of the 92 countries, the turnout in the The Philippines was highlighted for good reason –  more than quarter a million Filipinos retrieved more than 400,000 pieces of trash over nearly 1,000 kilometers of shoreline, weighing more than 300 tonnes. What a big relief for their shores!

Singapore’s entry this year is blank because the 2015 cleanup was cancelled due to the poor air condition caused by the transboundary haze pollution. Besides Singapore, Dominica’s cleanup was also cancelled, due to a tropical storm.

2016 is the 25th year of the International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore. Let’s hope we’ll be spared the haze, as volunteers are usually able to clear between 14 – 20 tonnes of trash from our shores. The marine environment certainly does deserve the relief coastal cleanup volunteers provide.

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Registration opens for the 25th International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (Sat 03 & Sat 17 Sep 2016)!

Announcement – ICCS 2016 Registration for Organisers is now open, and results of Site Allocation will be released at end-Apr, end-May and end-Jun 2016.

Greetings Organisers!

The International Coastal Cleanup is coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy in Washington DC, USA. Every the third Saturday of September, volunteers around the world rise with the sun to conduct a cleanup at shores and waterways with a difference – they collect, categorise, record and remove trash, and have done so since 1986!

In Singapore, ICC Organisers have facilitated the contribution of thousands of volunteers to the International Coastal Cleanup program in Singapore since 1992. And in 2016, it is the 25th year we welcome Organisers to lead volunteers to participate in this meaningful activity once again!

Dates and tides
Sites difficulty and recce reports can be reviewed at Do review the evaluation of the site and examine photos and results from previous years to prepare yourself.

New Organisers can familiarise themselves with the operational needs of organising a cleanup at at the Organiser’s Page here.

Mark the dates – Sat 03 Sep 2016 (Mangroves) & Sat 17 Sep 2016 (Beaches)

The tidal heights in Singapore (Sembawang) are:

  • Sat 03 2016: 0800 – 0.9m; 0900 – 1.3m
  • Sun 17 Sep 2016: 0800 – 1.4m; 0900 – 1.9m

Thus mangrove and beach cleanups will be held two weeks apart to allow mangrove workers a wider area of access at their site. Beach cleanups on the 3rd of September must begin by 8.00am as usual, for the tide rises quickly during this full moon to more than 3.0 meters by midday.

Registration – Organisers can now register your groups for participation in September’s data gathering cleanup. Indicate your preferred sites and dates at

ICCS map

Site Allocations Exercise I – III
The ICCS team will conduct Site Allocations Exercises based on the Organiser’s experience with ICCS, earliness of registration, familiarity with the site, volunteer preparation, and site difficulty. The results of these exercises will be announced at the end of Apr, May and June and listed at

Registration will be close thereafter.


Workshops for Organisers in July
The workshop will conducted by the Zone Captains at NUS and are meant for Organisers and their assistants only. The workshop is critical for new organisers but also useful to veterans to participate and anyone who needs help in reviewing the site recce and safety assessment checklist.

There will be three small group evening sessions for you to chose from on Wed 13th July, Thu 14th July & Fri 15th July 2016. Simply indicate your intent during registration and we will confirm your attendance later. If July is inconvenient, indicate your available period and your Zone Captains will try to arrange a quick catchup session with you another time.


Year-round coastal cleanups (YRCC)
You can also organize cleanups at any other time of the year if you wish – numerous groups have been making a difference this way at non-recreational sites throughout the year. Please see Year-Round Coastal Cleanup guidelines, and contact us accordingly.

LCK 2012 (kp) 02

What about individual participation?
“Independents” are a highly valuable community of motivated individuals who sign up independently to participate in cleanups organised by ICCS. To be kept notified, join the mailing list by sending an empty email to This low volume list has less than 10 emails annually. Or keep a lookout for announcements of cleanups here.

Thank you for your interest in caring for the environment!

N. Sivasothi
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
& Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Participation in International Coastal Cleanup Singapore has doubled over a decade

Registration by Organisations for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) in September this year will be open next week.

Looking back at participation in recent years (2010-2014), on the average some 3,500 ICCS volunteers from 70 organisations have worked 20,000 metres of Singapore’s shoreline, removing more than 180,00 pieces of trash in 2,200 trash bags weighing about 16,000kg.

Encouragingly, this has doubled since the last decade.

Screenshot 21

There is plenty of work to do out on our shores, so this massive effort has been supplemented by an increasing number of year-round cleanups in the recent years. This has been and remains a wonderful contribution to the marine environment by volunteers in Singapore.

Cancelled – all cleanups on morning of Sat 19 Sep 2015: haze at unhealthy levels

0720h – Dear Organiser, do cancel your scheduled cleanup at current unhealthy levels of haze. We certainly appreciate the dedication by those of you intending to proceed. However, ICCS is not able to accept data from this morning to safeguard volunteers’ health.

From NEA Pollutant Concentrations page.
Pollutant Concentrations 3

View of Bukit Timah from Holland Village this morning
2015 09 19 08 30 23

Haze Advisory to Organisers, update: Only hourly PM2.5 concentrations are suitable for a rapid response (and values > 55µg/m3 are unhealthy)

About half of the 70 organisations in the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore cancelled over the past week after the first haze advisory was issued. The remaining organisations, about half, are able to defer their decision to early tomorrow morning.

However, I had to improve the advisory. Since PSI indices are based on previously registered values, they cannot respond to rapid changes on the ground. So it is the 1-hr PM2.5(µg/m3) concentrations which NEA has published since 2014, which has been pointed to ICCS Organisers to keep an eye on.

Well, that and their eyes and noses!

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Date: Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 10:03 PM

Dear International Coastal Cleanup Organisers in Singapore,

Some of you will decide if you can proceed with your coastal cleanup on the morning of the event itself. Here is our recommendation.

Check 1-hour PM2.5 values. PSI values are historical so will not help.

What is this value?

  • This value indicates the concentration of harmful fine particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter in the environment.
  • Yes it is a lower number than your PSI, because this value is a concentration, and not an index.
  • The concentration can be converted to an Air Quality Index (AQI) value.
  • The 3-hour and 24-hour indices report historical values so are not applicable to our situation.

You can rely on your eyes and nose too!

  • Conditions can change very rapidly with shifting winds and take up to an hour for readings to reflect this change.
  • Be observant and respond accordingly.

Why is the use of N95 masks for coastal cleanups not recommended?

  • Only N95 masks help prevent inhalation of fine particles. However they must used properly and in the right conditions.
  • Fit is of critical importance to prevent the entry of 2.5 micrometer-sized particles through gaps in the mask.
  • Each user needs to be fitted properly and the seal examined to ensure it is adequate, especially with people unfamiliar with use of the mask (most of us!)
  • Heavy breathing can disrupt the seal of a mask.
  • Wearing a mask and engaging in physical activity may require increased effort to breathe or create discomfort in breathing.

Why are we being so careful?
Isn’t the issue of marine pollution critical? Don’t we need the data?

  • ICCS is not such a critical exercise that it requires volunteers to take such risks.
  • Small and fine particles can pass through the throat and nose to enter the lungs and affect our heart and lungs.
  • This can cause serious short-term and long-term health effects.

Even though we have been working on the International Coastal Cleanup project since the start of the year, the health of all you precious volunteers is much more important.

All the best and let’s hope for clear skies!

Relevant Links



N. Sivasothi
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum &
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

ICCS Haze Advisory for Organisers: At air quality readings above 100psi, please consider cancelling your event!

Dear Organisers,

regarding the haze in Singapore, we recommend the following:

1) At psi levels above 100, please consider cancelling your event.

  • As the Organiser of your event, the decision is yours to make.
  • Do inform us once you decide, and if you can, the latest by Friday (18 Sep 2015) 12.00pm
  • We will inform NEA, NParks and SLA/SPF as needed and will cancel trash pickup arrangements.

Some of you may be wanting to delay your decision until the morning of the cleanup itself and we support this. But do let us know if you intend to do this and we can keep the relevant agencies updated.

I know this is extremely disappointing to us all after almost a year of preparation. But let us focus on staying healthy right now and work at protecting the marine environment directly when it is safer for us to do so.

2) In conditions of 50 – 100 psi, please advise vulnerable individuals

  • Please caution vulnerable volunteers against participation in the cleanup event.
  • These are individuals who are already experiencing discomfort or irritation even from low level haze conditions (0 – 50psi).
  • A coastal cleanup requires at least least three hours of exposure which such individuals should avoid.

Note that the Ministry of Health advisory is less conservative, see their FAQ: Impact of Haze on Health (Updated 20 March 2015).

3) Attempt an alternative date in October for those who can?

  • Some of you may be able to consider an alternative date within what Ocean Conservancy has informed us is the acceptable data collection period of Oct 2015.
  • These two dates are identified as the best in relation to tides:
    • Sat 03 Oct 2015: 0800h – 1000h (tide: 1.1m – 1.5m).
    • Sat 10 Oct 2015: 1500h – 1700h (tide: 1.3m – 1.4m).
  • If you intend to consider an October option, please let us know.
  • Be prepared that the haze may not clear by these dates as well.
  • We will make arrangements with relevant agencies accordingly.

Thank you for caring for the environment, everyone, and all the best!



p.s. I have been monitoring the haze since 19 Aug 2015. In this time, I have been reading various recommendations, reviewing the prevalence of respiratory conditions, consulted doctors about the matter, and examined various advisories. In early September, I decided the ICCS advisory would be a conservative one even if haze levels did not exceed 100 psi. Our priority is to safeguard our volunteers’ health and to live to fight another day!

N. Sivasothi
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum &
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Be part of the 30th International Coastal Cleanup – join us @ Tanah Merah 7, Singapore on Sat 19 Sep 2015!

On Sat 19 Sep 2015, more than half a million volunteers around the world will participate in the 30th International Coastal Cleanup! And as the sun rises over Singapore, some 3,500 volunteers from 68 different organisations will hit the beaches and mangroves of Singapore in what will be our 24th year!

If you are not from an organisation or group but want to be part of ICC Singapore 2015, look no further – join the NUS Toddycats & Independents team who will battle marine trash at Tanah Merah 7. We join five other organisations on that 900 metre long beach on Sat 19 Sep 2015: 8.00am – 11.00am.

Registration has closed! Thanks for indicating your interest.
Transport will be provided from Tanah Merah MRT, so please sign up early


Why Cleanup? In Singapore, our coastlines host a vast amount of biodiversity. Trash present in these areas can impact our wildlife adversely and devalue the natural beauty of the landscape. Volunteers in Singapore, like other concerned individuals around the world, conduct coastal cleanups to remove this trash, raise awareness about the impact of marine trash, and motivate us to adopt sustainable practises in daily urban living.

Tanah Merah Beach 7 is a state land located in the east of Singapore, next to the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT). This area is closed to members of the public and permission is needed for each access. The coastline of Tanah Merah 7 is alive with critters, big and small – read more about it here.

2015-05-25 10.54.35 2015-05-25 10.49.43

But amidst creatures lie heaps of plastic and styrofoam.

2015-05-25 11.26.57 2015-05-25 11.40.34

If you want to know more about what to expect on the day, see photos from ICCS 2014!

Come join us to make a difference on these shores!


  • 7:30am – Transport from Tanah Merah MRT to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal Car Park (meeting point).
  • 8.00am – Briefing and identification of the Trash Disposal Point (TDP). Wet weather plans (stop for lighting threat). Organise into groups of four participants, apply insect repellant, collect gloves and trash bags; walk to site.
  • 8.15am – Cleanup begins @ TM7 Beach
  • 9.30am – Cleanup end. Weigh trash, report data summary (under shade!); discussion/ reflection.
  • 10.00am – Transportation of trash to TDP.
  • 10.30am – Participants clean up. Toilets are available at the Ferry Terminal building.
  • 10.45am – Event ends; bus leaves from Tanah Merah MRT.

Things to note

  1. Gloves, trash bags and weighing scales are provided.
  2. You must wear hard-soled covered shoes or booties to to protect your feet from hazards. Without appropriate footwear, you will not be allowed on the site.
  3. A change of clothes is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  4. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites, but bermudas are fine if you are tolerant or unaffected.
  5. If there is a drizzle, we will continue the cleanup with our wet weather gear. If there are strong winds or lightning threat, we will halt the event.

Things to bring:

  1. Water bottle (with at least one litre of water)
  2. Hat and/or sun block
  3. Reusable raincoat/poncho or umbrella
  4. Towel to wipe off sand and mud

Be prepared:

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a decent breakfast – it’s a hard morning’s work!
  3. Be punctual – we are unable to wait for latecomers; the tide waits for no one!
  4. Refer to this recce report of TM7 for more information on the cleanup site.
  5. Please read our advice to participants to prepare yourself for the cleanup!

Thank you for caring for the environment!