- WSL / Alexander Siegel / Surfrider Foundation

How big of a problem is plastic pollution on our beaches. In the United States, it appears that it's almost the entire problem.

The Surfrider Foundation just released their 2020 Beach Cleanup Report, which found that a whopping 90-percent of the pollution on U.S. beaches is plastic. The data was collection through Surfrider's national beach cleanup program.

"Beach cleanups have always been an instrumental tool for our network to analyze the most common types of items that pollute our beaches so we can work to help pass laws that reduce these items at the source," Surfrider's Plastic Pollution Manager, Rachael Coccia, explained.

"It's a constantly evolving program and 2020 was no exception. Instead of shutting down our iconic beach cleanups entirely, we adapted by transitioning to solo cleanups and tracking personal protective equipment as new priority items. The success of last year's cleanups is a result of the dedication of our volunteers and strength of the program."

Top Items Collected Surfrider - Surfrider

Due to the pandemic and rules about gathering in groups and social distancing, 2020 presented a unique set of challenges to the beach cleanup effort. Nevertheless, Surfrider was able to modify their strategies and host 927 cleanups. They actually increased their coverage by a remarkable 55-percent and were able to remove more than 80,000 points of wasted from U.S. beaches and waterways.

By compiling this data in reports like this, Surfrider is able to work with other local, state and federal officials and other environmental organizations to continue to develop ways to reduce single-use plastic pollution.

"Plastic pollution is a global crisis and the Surfrider Foundation's Beach Cleanup program is one essential way we are working to address it," Surfrider's Plastic Pollution Coordinator, Jennifer Hart, said.

"The success of the Beach Cleanup program in 2020 is a tribute to our dedicated grassroots network. Across the nation, people came together and showed immense levels of commitment to the program. We continue to be inspired by the network of activists who push on and fight for a plastic-free future." 

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