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PPE one of the most common types of litter found on Canadian shorelines last year

A new category was added to Ocean Wise’s “Dirty Dozen” list last year during the shoreline cleanup.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, one of the largest direct action conservation programs in Canada, today released its ‘Dirty Dozen’ list along with its 2021 Impact Report.

<who>Ocean Wise

Personal protective equipment (PPE) was among the most common types of litter found on Canadian shorelines.

Volunteers picked up 11,450 PPE items, mostly face masks, from shorelines as part of the 2021 cleanup.

In addition to PPE, single-use food and beverage items and cigarette butts were at the top of the list.

<who>Ocean Wise

“For the first time in 28 years of shoreline cleanups personal protective equipment, or PPE, was included as a category on volunteer-reporting cards, having been reported regularly as the top find without a category in 2020. And indeed, PPE ended up making its way onto the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list,” said Laura Hardman, Director of Ocean Wise’s plastic initiative.

“This serves as a powerful reminder that our actions have direct consequences for our environment. The best way to stop the threat of pollution to our ocean is to prevent our waste from getting there in the first place.”

Single-use food and beverage items—including food wrappers, beverage cans, bottle caps, plastic bottles, coffee cups and straws— are the largest offenders, up 5% from last year’s cleanup. This follows a 12% increase from 2019 to 2020.

Ocean Wise said that they are hopeful that government bans on single use plastics will reverse the rising trend.

The 2021 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup saw 19,508 participants complete 1,998 cleanups across the country. Volunteers covered 2,219 km of Canadian freshwater and marine shoreline, including 237 new cleanup sites. In total, participants hauled in 31,522 kilograms of trash.

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