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Click here to sign up for the 2012 Delaware Coastal Cleanup

2016 Coastal Cleanup draws more than 1,500 volunteers, gathers 6 tons of trash 

This year’s DNREC-sponsored 29th annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup held Sept. 17 drew 1,572 volunteers, who collected 6 tons of trash from 45 sites along more than 75 miles of Delaware’s waterways and coastline stretching from Wilmington to Fenwick Island. About one-quarter of that trash – mostly aluminum cans and glass and plastic beverage bottles – was recycled this year.

Unusual items found during this year’s cleanup included: a Walkman cassette player, a television, a set of pornographic DVDs, an air horn, map, pay stub, bowling pin, badminton shuttlecock, fake aquarium plants, peach basket, vampire teeth, book, candle, finger splint, tweezers, respirator, surgical mask, pacifiers, baby wipes, teething ring, selfie stick, dog crate, toothbrush, dental floss, mailbox, a U.S. Postal Service plastic bin, real estate sign, political sign, two file cabinet drawers, a wine cork, two full beer bottles and a volleyball-sized round metal weight, purpose unknown.

Some items were notable in their numbers. Statewide, volunteers picked up 13,577 cigarette and cigar butts, a decrease of 6,833 from last year’s total of 20,410. Balloons increased slightly, from 458 last year to 654 this year. Other items included 331 fireworks, 215 shotgun shells and 2,350 plastic bags.

This year, more than 23,500 pieces of food/beverage-related trash were picked up. Notable numbers included 4,842 food wrappers, 5,600 plastic bottle caps, 1,028 lids, 1,840 straws, 3,024 plastic beverage bottles, 2,030 beverage cans, 1,183 glass bottles and 2,753 paper, plastic and foam cups, plates and take-out containers.

The Delaware Coastal Cleanup is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, the Ocean Conservancy’s flagship program dealing with marine debris and data collection. The types and quantities of trash collected are recorded on data cards and forwarded to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles the information to help identify the source of the debris and focus efforts on eliminating or reducing it.

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

Delaware’s next Coastal Cleanup is set for Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Registration will be posted on this web page next July. To learn more about the coastal cleanup, please watch DNREC's YouTube Channel video Introduction to Delaware's Coastal Cleanup video. For more information on the Delaware Coastal Cleanup, please email coordinator Joanna Wilson or phone 302-739-9902.

Recycling Trash
The Coastal Cleanup’s recycling program will continue in 2017. Volunteers will be given black trash bags plus white, tan or clear bags 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.Volunteers pick up trash during the 29th annual Coastal Cleanup at Bennett's Pier on Milford Neck

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 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.

 Mark your calendars for the 2017 Delaware Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 16!

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