Top Pollutants from Coastal Cleanup Month

This data was collected in September 2021. The top pollutants are as follows:

  • 3,548 cigarettes/cigars
  • 1504 Foam or Plastic Fragments
  • 1340 Other/Uncategorized Trash
  • 837 Plastic Food Wrappers
  • 649 Paper Food Wrappers

Foam pieces are routinely one of the top polluters found in NEC cleanups. Approximately 1,369 tons of Styrofoam are buried in US landfills every day. It is estimated that Styrofoam fills up 30% of landfills. Styrofoam contains toxic chemicals, such as Styrene, that leach into food and the surrounding environment. It is quite dangerous to wildlife who may mistake it for food. In addition to damaging ecosystems directly, styrofoam contributes to climate change by releasing harmful gasses when exposed to sunlight Estimates for its decomposition range anywhere from 500 to 1 million years.

Sources: Styrofoam Facts–Eco Friendly Habits, The Facts On Styrofoam: Reduce and Reuse–
Photo: jnyemb on Flickr