2019 Coastal Cleanup Results

The 2019 Delaware Coastal Cleanup, held Sept.14, drew 1,931 volunteers, who collected 3.6 tons of trash and recyclables from 46 sites along more than 125 miles of Delaware’s waterways and coastline stretching from Wilmington to Fenwick Island.

Numbers increased for many common items. Food and beverage-related trash items nearly doubled to 42,462 pieces, including:

  • 4,268 food wrappers
  • 4,043 plastic beverage bottles
  • 2,444 beverage cans
  • 1,453 glass bottles
  • 2,851 paper, plastic and foam cups, plates and take-out containers.

A group of men holding trash they have collectedCommon plastic items showed changes from 2018’s cleanup. There were 2,172 plastic bags, up from 1,946. There were 2,397 straws and stirrers, down from 2,738. The 1,434 plastic lids found was an increase from 1,116. And the 6,319 plastic bottle caps were down from 7,026 in 2018.

Other notable items found:

  • 66 tires
  • 119 shotgun shells
  • 13,168 cigarette butts and cigar tips
  • 517 balloons
  • Dozens of sports balls, including golf, football, tennis, lacrosse, whiffle, and basketballs, as well as Frisbees.

Some of the more unusual items found were: a wedding dress, Nerf gun foam bullet, life jacket, sippy cup, mouth guard, bike pedal, flea collar, cooler handle, bushel basket, guitar pick, a “rubbery blob,” brake rotor, car bumper, garden rake, PVC pipe, half an anchor, mattress springs, large commercial fishnet, plastic pumpkin, plush unicorn, two boxes of fireworks, shopping cart wheel, Easter egg, baby shoes, ladder, luxury condos sign, vintage baby doll, lip gloss, duct tape, crab pot, an old Christmas tree, an Adopt-A-Highway sign, cell phone, pop-up tent, ear buds, broken canopies, tent spike, toilet seats, sledgehammer, nose clip, kitchen towel, lawn chair, boat propeller, dog bone, two baby strollers, four television sets at one site, a floating dock, a car engine and a tire attached to a partially buried car, and 348 all-the-same-brand beer cans in one location.

As part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, the types and quantities of trash collected in Delaware are recorded on data cards and forwarded by DNREC to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles the information to help identify debris sources and focus efforts on elimination or reduction. For more information, please visit

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