Record-breaking Jersey Shore beach sweep finds dentures among plastic

NEW JERSEY — Are you looking for your car keys, your phone book, your dentures or your airpods? Clean Ocean Action beach sweeping volunteers may have discovered them and others on New Jersey beaches.

Beach sweeps take place twice a year, in the fall and spring. The spring 2022 date is April 9 and volunteers from 75 different locations in New Jersey will be there, said AOC events coordinator Emily Murray.

Over the years, 157,863 volunteers have contributed 947,178 volunteer hours to remove and record debris from NJ’s beaches and waterways.

“With the new and improved data map, we were able to track new items for the first time, including personal protective equipment, dental flossers, e-cigarette waste, etc. This is the first step towards identifying solutions to prevent these latest ‘ocean offenders’ littering our beaches,” said Watershed program manager Alison Jones.

During the beach sweep in the fall of 2021, a record 513,605 items were discovered, with plastic, including foam, accounting for 82.32% of the debris collected. Several plastic items set new records, including bottle caps, which reached 69,454 for the first time, according to the report.

Food and candy packaging also hit a new high of 58,589, indicating a 16.55% increase from 2019. Plastic parts fell to second place for the first time in nearly a decade, while plastic bottle caps moved into first place.

On the positive side, plastic drink bottles, cigar stubs, glass shards, and plastic store bags/shopping bags have all dropped in the rankings, implying that the prevalence of these littered items is on the rise. decrease.

The impending ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers will only help.

Dubbed “Ocean Offenders”, these items were first documented in 2021:

  • Cotton swab sticks: 274
  • Choice of dental floss: 2,172
  • Disposable wipes: 1,523
  • Dog waste bags: 1,667
  • Cartridges/caps/pens for electronic cigarettes: 3,686
  • Take-out plastic food containers: 2,020
  • Disposable face masks: 3,080
  • Reusable masks: 538
  • Disposable gloves: 1,310

The data compiled demonstrates the need for strong policies and behavioral changes to reduce waste and wasteful practices.

For example, a COA report was used to help pass the New Jersey Recycled Content Act, which encourages recycling by creating a market for recycled materials such as plastic, as well as the NJ Single-Use Plastic Waste Reduction Act.

The COA’s next objective is to restrict balloon releases.

“Balloons can be pretty, festive and fun, but when thrown outdoors, intentionally or unintentionally, they can become dangerous and even deadly,” COA officials said. Balloons pose one of the greatest risks to marine life due to ingestion, and they can get tangled in power lines, causing outages.

According to the 2021 report, 5,234 balloons were collected from New Jersey beaches.

“If you want to change the world, people power is the answer,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action. “The Beach Sweeps is irrefutable proof of this fact. We are grateful and inspired by the dedication and genuine spirit of the volunteers.”

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