What a year! The last of our four Trash Bash Beach cleanups, hosted in collaboration with The Beach Co-op, took place at Sunset Beach, Cape Town on 8 December 2018. All we took away was trash, all we left was lasting impressions - thank you to everyone that has been involved in their year of environmental action.


What were the results?

One of the goals of Trash Bash is to collect scientific data about the 12 most prevalent plastic litter items found in the ocean, how they are distributed and the rate at which the debris collected on Sunset Beach. These items are dubbed "The Dirty Dozen". To study the accumulation of the Dirty Dozen, the same 1km stretch of beach was cleaned up four times throughout the year - these were the results:

2018 Trash Bash results
  "Dirty Dozen" item 21 Mar 9 Jun 15 Sep 8 Dec Total
1 Sweet wrappers 1172 516 3024 1088 5800
2 Lollipop sticks 1919 896 1164 475 4454
3 Earbuds 2225 340 737 470 3772
4 Bottle lids 1797 378 1110 423 3708
5 Drinking straws 853 303 1034 329 2519
6 Chip packets 15 76 1249 382 1812
7 Shopping bags 171 80 303 159 713
8 Fishing line 48 35 173 37 293
9 Water bottles 9 10 168 27 214
10 Cigarette lighters 81 19 70 4 174
11 Cooldrink bottles 18 13 121 7 159
12 Fishing lightsticks 31 1 33 7 72

Looks like individual sweet wrappers, lollipop sticks and discarded earbuds were the big pollution items on this beach - entering the ocean as windblown litter or via wastewater. Interestingly, you can see that there is a proportional increase in items like chip packets, drinking straws and water bottles after the winter rains - a strong indication that much of the litter on this beach is washed into the ocean with stormwater runoff.

We also found uncountable amounts of microplastics and nurdles during these cleanups, and will be looking at ways to more effectively clean and quantify these types of pollution too.

Trash Bash 2019 - more to look forward to!

With your suggestions, 2019 is going to see bigger, better and even more incredible Trash Bash cleanup - we'll be saying goodbye to Sunset Beach and moving to new locations for the next year of cleanups and scientific study.

We look forward to seeing you all again and being able to welcome new communities of Trash Bashers into our midst in the new year.

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