Tons of Trash Cleaned Up at Delaware Beaches

Volunteers picked up 3.8 tons of trash after a summer at the Delaware beaches.

Thanks to legions of hearty volunteers, seventy-five miles of Delaware’s coastline is dramatically cleaner. More than 1,567 people collected 3.8 tons of trash as part of the Delaware Coastal Cleanup in September.

The haul included lots of items left over from a summer of fun but also thousands of plastic bags and disposable plates and beverage containers.

The massive effort drew 1,567 volunteers, who collected trash at 47 sites along long stretches of Delaware’s waterways and coastline from Wilmington to Fenwick Island. About one-quarter of the trash was recyclables.


Cell phones, wallets, and lots of plates, cans and cups. Volunteers found a cornucopia of items during the coastal cleanup.

“Each year, the Coastal Cleanup helps make a huge difference for marine life and water quality,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “In addition to marring the natural beauty of our beaches and waterways, trash is dangerous to marine life and unhealthy for water quality,”

DNREC organizes the annual cleanup with several co-sponsors: the Ocean Conservancy; Edgewell Personal Care/Playtex Manufacturing Inc., which donates gloves; and Waste Management, which hauls trash and recyclables collected by volunteers.

Some of the more unusual items found during this year’s cleanup were: a statue of the Virgin Mary, a large heavy rug, a cell phone, multiple gas tanks and televisions, coolers, a vacuum cleaner, trailer registration tag,   a driver’s license, Mardi Gras beads, glowsticks, and, at one site, 205 liquor bottles.

Thousands chipped in to clean up Delaware’s coastline.

Some items were notable in their numbers. Statewide, volunteers picked up 16,158 cigarette butts, up from last year’s total of 13,577. Balloons increased from 654 to 933 this year. Other items included 397 fireworks, 289 spent shotgun shells and 2,671 plastic bags.

This year, more than 22,126 pieces of food/beverage-related trash were picked up. This year’s notable numbers included 4,580 food wrappers, 4,636 plastic bottle caps, 993 lids, 1,898 straws, 2,815 plastic beverage bottles, 1,958 beverage cans, 1,004 glass bottles and 4,242 paper, plastic and foam cups, plates and take-out containers.

Delaware’s next Coastal Cleanup is set for Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Registration will be posted on DNREC’s website next July.

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