Marine debris removal set for Earth Day

This Earth Day, the Washington coast will be getting that spring cleaning treatment.

Washington CoastSavers, an alliance of partners devoted to removing marine debris from beaches, will host the Washington Coast Cleanup on Saturday, April 23. Volunteers will remove debris from beaches along the Pacific Coast and Strait of Juan de Fuca.

“Come together with thousands of volunteers to remove tons of harmful and slightly marine debris off nearly 200 miles of Washington beaches,” the Washington CoastSavers said in a statement on Wednesday, April 13.

During the Washington Coast Cleanup in 2016, over 1,400 volunteers removed more than 20 tons of trash from beaches spanning from Cape Disappointment all the way up to Cape Flattery.

Funding for the Washington Coast Cleanup is provided by the NOAA Marine Debris Program. The program is also funding a pilot recycling program to reduce plastic waste and provide an alternative to the landfill.

In conjunction with Net Your Problem, the cleanup will direct items, such as colored styrofoam, PVC, lighters, and wrappers to where they can be used to generate energy. Other items, such as hard plastic buoys, foam floats, white styrofoam, nets, and rope will go to Ocean Legacy to be turned into plastic pellets and later repurposed as other plastic products.

“Given the amount of plastic debris floating in our oceans, the potential for wildlife impacts is enormous. Plastics in the marine environment never fully degrade but tend to fragment into smaller pieces. Marine animals at all levels of the marine food web, from plankton to megafauna, mistake marine debris for food and ingest plastic,” states the NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary website.

Derelict fishing gear, which is constructed from resilient materials and takes longer to degrade, is also a concern as the debris kills marine animals through entanglement.

Washington CoastSavers began organizing an annual beach cleanup in 2007. The cleanup typically occurs every April on the Saturday closest to Earth Day, but is tide-dependent.

Washington State Parks, Olympic National Park, Olympia Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and Lions Club International are some of this year’s cleanup partners and will host site registration stands. Interested volunteers are encouraged to register at the beach nearest to them or carpool to a further location as parking is limited.

Volunteers will be provided with reusable bags at some locations, as well as plastic gloves. Registration is available at