PETALING JAYA: Plastic beverage bottles, cigarette butts, plastic pieces, food wrappers and plastic bottle caps were the top five items collected during this year's International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) Day.
A total of 24,493 plastic beverage bottles, 21,007 cigarette butts, and 15,280 plastic pieces were collected during the clean-up coordinated by non-profit Reef Check Malaysia (RCM).
The event on Sept 19 saw almost 11,000kg of rubbish removed from 70 coastal locations nationwide.
These items were similar to what were collected in the previous annual clean-up exercises, with the addition of a new category – masks and gloves, out of which 1,009 pieces were recovered.
Additionally, several unusual items were picked up; they included a carpet, a fibreglass boat and a liquid gas cylinder.
The rubbish collected was later removed by local councils or waste management contractors to be disposed of.
The ICC is the world's biggest annual volunteer effort to protect the oceans, as millions of people around the world gather to collect refuse along beaches and record information on the types of trash they collect.
A total of 3,424 volunteers participated in the clean-up, significantly fewer than previous years because of the Covid-19 situation.
“Plastic pollution and marine debris has been and still is a serious problem in Malaysia.
"While beach clean-ups are a temporary solution, we need to identify the source of the problem and address it, to ensure that we do not have to continue cleaning our beaches for many years into the future,” said Julian Hyde of RCM.
Selangor Princess Tengku Zatashah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, who participated in the clean-up, said this year’s ICC took on a different meaning for her because the pandemic had brought about more litter in the form of masks and gloves.
“Even as we are battling this deadly virus, we should remember to care for our environment, and always dispose of our trash responsibly”, she said.
The ICC effort in Malaysia was supported by various corporate sponsors and organisations.
According to Ocean Conservancy, 75% of land-based ocean plastics is from uncollected waste that makes its way to waterways before eventually reaching the ocean.