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Maritime Forum

Map of the Week – Addressing Beach Litter - #EUBeachCleanup campaign

This map shows the kind of litter that is found on European beaches per category (glass, textile, metal, polymer, etc.). Time for #EUBeachCleanup!  

This map shows the kind of litter that is found on European beaches per category (glass, textile, metal, polymer, etc.).

This week, the European Commission launched the 2024 #EUBeachCleanup campaign. This annual campaign organised by the European Union in partnership with the United Nations, and with the friendly collaboration of the Smurfs consists of clean-up events organised by institutions (European Union Delegations and Representations, Europe Direct Centres, United Nations Regional Offices, etc.), NGOs, and citizens. Last year, 555 events were organised in 44 countries, involving 45,700 participants! [1] This year, the campaign will be organised between 10 June and 31 October, with a peak on World Clean-up Day on 20 September 2024.

Did you know that there are several map layers on beach litter and seabed litter in the European Atlas of the Seas? Explore the Map of the Week to learn about the kind of litter that ends up on European beaches. Litter may have been directly left on beaches or may be marine litter that has been washed up on the shore. The map shows litter data at different locations according to several categories (glass, textile, metal, polymer, etc.) that have been monitored on Europe’s coastline under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Zoom into the map and click on the graphs to see more information on beach litter found along European coastline.

Every year, millions of tonnes of litter are generated through a variety of human activities and much of this ends up in the ocean, posing environmental, economic and public health problems. It is estimated that 7-13 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Plastic pollution comes in different forms, ranging from macroplastics (pieces larger than 20 centimetres) to microplastics (pieces smaller than 5 millimetres) and all the way to nanoparticles we cannot see. Plastic does not biodegrade in oceanic conditions. Its long-term presence in the marine environment enables the plastic pollution to enter the biosphere, affecting marine ecosystems.Macroplastics lead to wildlife entanglement, choking and physical damage while microplastics are ingested and passed through the entire food chain. [2]

There are many ways to get involved in the 2024 #EUBeachCleanup campaign:

  • Have a look at the list of events on the dedicated website and join an event in your region!
  • Organise an event in your region and register it on the website. As a large part of marine litter comes from land, inland clean-ups are also important!
  • Follow #EUBeachCleanup on social media!

And, in combination with clean-ups, contribute to marine litter prevention!


Access the map


The data in this map are provided by EMODnet.