By: Ann Kunz
In 2019, the item with the highest count collected during the International Beach Clean-up in KZN was cigarette butts. This year, cigarette butts only came in 5th position – after food wrappers, plastic pieces, plastic bottles and plastic bottle caps.
This year, the most prolific item collected was plastic bottle caps. The total count of bottle caps was higher than all the other items in the “first five” category put together.
Items with the highest count in 2021 were:
Plastic bottle caps – over 18 000
Plastic bottles – over 5000
Plastic pieces – over 4000
Sweet wrappers- over 3500
Cigarette butts- over 3400
Does this mean that the number of humans who smoke cigarettes have diminished or that humans are drinking more beverages in plastic bottles?
The number of bottle tops collected compared to the number of plastic bottles collected does not match up. This is possibly because plastic bottles are more visible and therefore more frequently removed from during the local authority daily beach cleaning efforts. If we have no alternative but to purchase beverages in plastic bottles, it would be wise to take moment to screw the cap back on the bottle before disposing.
Thankfully, straws did not appear in the top five and neither did shopping bags or styrofoam pieces which is quite remarkable.
In the far north of KwaZulu-Natal, Kosi Bay recorded glass pieces as their item with the highest count. On uShaka Beach plastic pieces were the clear winners. This year SAAMBR staff participating in the Beach Clean-up concentrated their efforts on collecting smaller items which are often not picked up by the daily cleaners who start work in the early hours of the morning.
Let’s hope that in 2022, plastic bottle caps will be off the top five lists throughout KZN.