Young people declare war on marine litter

Support from the Federal Environment Agency

plastic bottles and other pieces of waste in the seaClick to enlarge
Especially plastic waste is a problem for the seas because plastic does not rot.
Source: Heike Scheub

Estimates claim the amount of litter in the world's oceans to be up to 142 million tonnes and that there are up to 18,000 pieces of plastic waste for every square kilometre of ocean surface. Beaches along the southern North Sea have an average of 236 pieces of waste on 100 metres of coastal strip; the North sea bottom is believed to have an average 11 kilogrammes of litter per square kilometre. Up to 10,00 fishing nets are thought to be lost in the Baltic Sea every year, where they continue to 'fish' adrift and are able to kill for a long time.

These are shocking figures, ones which make the dimensions of this environmental problem quite clear. The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is focussing on research on waste pathways and the impact of trash on marine animals and is working to develop proposals for measures to combat marine litter. UBA is also providing support for associations which have come forward with innovative and promising ideas on the subject. One example is the Trashbusters H2O project of the Youth Association for the Protection of Nature (NAJU).

Trashbusters H2O is a two-year campaign by NAJU which aims to raise awareness among young people of waste prevention and the dangers of plastic waste in bodies of water. NAJU is announcing a two-week cleanup campaign across Germany as part of the project. It will be launched on 19 September as International Coastal Cleanup Day.

An appeal has been sent to more than 5,000 young people. You can join the cleanup campaign in your neighbourhood or create your own on www.trashbusters.de/aktionswoche. Activities which don't take place directly at the coast can nevertheless benefit the oceans and seas because a lot of marine litter reaches open waters from inland. Some of the sources of litter are leisure time activities and tourism, rivers and canals, industrial facilities, sewage treatment plants and rainwater runoff.

Umweltbundesamt Headquarters

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau
Germany

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 marine litter