Coastal clean-ups and urban litter collections are a great way to engage people in understanding the scale of the plastic pollution problem. High visibility clean-up efforts like those from Plastic Pollution Coalition member The Ocean Cleanup raise a huge amount of awareness for the problem.

Yet cleaning up the coast and the ocean is treating only a symptom of a much larger problem. Unless we turn off the constant stream of plastic pollution being produced, used, and disposed worldwide, we will be cleaning up the coasts and the oceans forever. In order to clean the coasts, oceans, streets, and landfills, we must prevent the plastic from ever being produced and used in the first place, by setting meaningful production reduction targets for plastics manufacturers and making significant shifts away from single-use plastic packaging.

In the meantime, when conducting clean-ups on coasts or other areas, PPC strongly advises collecting brand information, where available, on all plastic trash collected. Through the data collected about which brands are contributing the most to plastic pollution in our waterways, beaches, and streets, organizations like PPC and our partners at Break Free From Plastic can influence the behavior of corporations, convincing them to change their ways.

See also: #BreakFreeFromPlastic Launches Coastal Cleanup Activities Worldwide, Plastic Free Times, 15 Sept 2017

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