Volunteers collected 6,081 kg trash, 27,854 cigarette butts on Dutch beaches
Between 1 and 15 August, 1,827 volunteers picked up 6,081 kilograms of trash and 27,854 cigarette butts on Dutch beaches. The many thousands of butts show the need for smoke-free beaches, said the North Sea Foundation, one of the organizers of the annual Boskalis Beach Cleanup Tour.
The beaches were littered with cigarette butts again this year, the North Sea Foundation said. Volunteers kept them separate and counted them afterward. The largest number of butts - 6,366 - were found on Zandvoort beach. “This is only a fraction of the total. Unfortunately, too many people use the beach as an ashtray,” said Wytske Postma, director of the North Sea Foundation.
“Cigarette butts are the most commonly found waste on popular beaches and are extremely harmful to the environment and wildlife. One butt can pollute up to a thousand liters of water, consists of 95 percent plastic, and is full of toxic substances,” Postma said. The North Sea Foundation, therefore, urges the Dutch government to make the Netherlands’ beaches smoke-free.
Zandvoort also won the dubious prize of being the most polluted with trash. Volunteers picked up 929 kilograms of waste on the popular beach.
The beach cleaners made some remarkable finds this year. Volunteers found a bottle of liquor from Belarus on Schiermonnikoog, and teabags from Myanmar and a cleaning product from Vietnam on the Texel beach. On the Petten and Scheveningen beach, they found a mayonnaise packaging from Luycks - a company that was dissolved in 1985. That piece of trash is, therefore, at least 38 years old. Volunteers also continued to find waste from the MSC Zoe disaster, in which the cargo ship lost 342 containers in the North Sea almost five years ago, on the Wadden Islands.
“Plastic waste simply does not decay and is a persistent problem. This just goes to show that we really need to tackle waste at the source. Prevention is better than cure. Measures are needed to turn off the waste tap,” Postma said.
The volunteers worked in thirty stages, starting on the beaches of Schiermonnikoog and Cadzand, cleaning every Dutch beach until they met in the middle in Zandvoort on Tuesday.