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Click here to sign up for the 2012 Delaware Coastal Cleanup

2015 Delaware Coastal Cleanup draws nearly 1,500 volunteers, gathers 7.8 tons of trash

The 29th annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup, held Sept. 19, 2015, drew 1,492 volunteers who collected 7.8 tons of trash from 50 sites along more than 65 miles of Delaware's river and ocean shorelines as well as wetland and watershed areas, stretching from Wilmington to Fenwick Island. The cleanup is sponsored and organized by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. 

Some of the more unusual items found during this year’s cleanup included a raincoat, assorted underwear, numerous flip-flops, a rubber swim cap, a hair dryer , a wig, more than a dozen pairs of sunglasses, a perfume bottle, a house key on a ring, boat seat cushions, a can of Sterno, a tent, two propane tanks, a bow and arrows, a bike pedal, a dog leash and more than 20 bags of dog waste, beach chairs, a boogie board leash, an umbrella holder, a smoke detector, a recliner, a metal bed frame, four dozen condoms, light bulbs, a paint roller and paintbrush, ceiling tiles, buckets, a mop head, trash cans, coat hangers, a sink, a toilet seat, carpet pieces, batteries, lawn chairs, a rusty fire pit, flower pots, stakes, zip ties, a microwave, plastic and wood fencing, a teacup, chopsticks, tiki torch holders and four shot glasses, one of which was still full.

Some items were notable in their numbers. Statewide, volunteers picked up 20,410 cigarette and cigar butts, an increase of 1,533 from last year’s total of 18,877. The number of fishing-related items also increased from 989 last year to 1,317 this year, including more than 100 crab pots, nearly 500 yards of fishing line and 226 fishing nets and pieces; volunteers also found fishing rods, reels, lures and hooks. Balloons decreased, from 1,214 last year to 458 this year. Other items included 1,064 fireworks, 424 shotgun shells, eight tarps and 2,433 plastic bags. In addition to 36 passenger vehicle tires, car parts included a battery cable, license plate holder, taillight, hubcaps, fenders, a bumper, a car mat and a transmission.

This year, more than 23,000 pieces of food/beverage-related trash were picked up, a reduction compared to nearly 28,000 last year. This year’s notable numbers included 5,067 food wrappers, 3,603 plastic bottle caps, 1,747 lids, 1,657 straws, 3,785 plastic beverage bottles, 2,074 beverage cans, 1,698 glass bottles and 1,444 paper, plastic and foam cups and plates. About one-quarter of the trash picked up this year - aluminum beverage cans and glass and plastic bottles - was recycled this year.

Volunteers at Port Mahon during the 2009 Delaware Coastal Cleanup

Mark your calendar for next year's Coastal Cleanup Sept. 17, 2016
Delaware's 30th annual Coastal Cleanup is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Preregistration will open on this site in mid-July, 2016.

To learn more about the coastal cleanup, click this video link on DNREC's YouTube Channel: Introduction to Delaware's Coastal Cleanup video. For more information on the Delaware Coastal Cleanup, please email coordinator Joanna Wilson or phone her at 302-739-9902.

For information on specific sites, click 2015 Delaware Coastal Cleanup sites map, or email the zone captain in your area:
- Delaware State Parks - Karen Minner
- State Wildlife Areas - Lynne Pusey
- Kent County Beaches - Colleen Holstein
- Sussex County Beaches - Jennifer Luoma

For participants under the age of 18 in the Coastal Cleanup or other DNREC volunteer programs, download the required parental consent form here.

Recycling Trash
For 2016, the Cleanup’s recycling program will continue. Volunteers will be given black trash bags plus a second color for recyclables. The bags will then be placed in separate piles at each sites' designated trash pickup location.

Volunteers are asked to put only clean and intact recyclable glass, plastic and aluminum beverage containers in the recyclable bags. If these containers are badly damaged or contain sand or other materials, they are not recyclable.

Beautifying the Bayshore
More than two dozen Coastal Cleanup sites are part of Delaware’s Bayshore, which encompasses the central part of the state’s shoreline east of Route 1, from New Castle and Delaware City in southern New Castle County to the Lewes/Cape Henlopen area of Sussex County.

This unique region, with its quiet bay beaches, marshes, forests, wildlife areas and agricultural/residential lands, is the focus of the Delaware Bayshore Initiative, a landscape approach to conserving wildlife habitat, enhancing low-impact recreational opportunities and building strong communities through environmentally compatible economic development.

The Ocean Conservancy Connection
Delaware’s Cleanup is also part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest annual clearing of trash from coastlines and lakes by volunteers. Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world help each year to rid the environment of marine debris and collect detailed information on the types and quantities of refuse.

The types and quantities of trash collected are recorded on data cards and forwarded to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles the information for all of the cleanups held in the country and around the world. This information helps identify the source of the debris and focus efforts on eliminating or reducing it.

A recent marine debris report released by the Ocean Conservancy found that general-source marine debris – trash that comes from both ocean- and land-based activities – increased across the United States by more than five percent each year. (This report can be seen at

The Ocean Conservancy supplies trash bags, data cards and brochures on marine debris. Delaware’s cleanup is co-sponsored by Delmarva Power, which provides collectable t-shirts for the participants. Other key sponsors are Edgewell Personal Care/Playtex Manufacturing, which provides gloves, and Waste Management, which hauls trash and recyclables. DNREC is responsible for organizing the event, recruiting volunteers, distributing supplies, ensuring trash removal and tabulating all the data collected.

Please volunteer and join in the 2016 Delaware Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 17!

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