Plastic Utensils Now Among Top 5 Beach Polluters, Ocean Conservancy Says

by on September 3, 2019 · 4 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach

We’re all familiar with “the usual suspects of ocean and beach pollution”; years ago it was the plastic six-pack rings; more recently, plastic bags and plastic straws became enemies of the environment with massive movements to ban them around the globe.

Now – however – “the Ocean Conservancy is urging the public to focus on another type of plastic waste that’s an increasingly a significant concern: plastic cutlery.”

The nonprofit environmental advocacy group Ocean Conservancy has just released the results of its 2018 International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), and for the first time since being added as its own category in 2013, plastic cutlery ranked as one of the top ten most common items during the annual trash collection event. As a result, after encouraging people to “Skip the Straw” since 2014, the organization is adding a new initiative to its repertoire: “Quit the Cutlery.”

Nicholas Mallos, senior director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, announced:

“Plastic forks, knives and spoons are ranked among the most harmful types of marine debris to ocean animals, and the 2018 ICC data show that they may be a lot more prevalent than we had previously suspected. In addition to skipping the straw, we hope people see this and choose to quit the cutlery, too—by bringing their own when planning to eat on the go.”

Ocean Conservancy has released all the details from last year’s Cleanup, with 1,080,358 volunteers in more than 120 countries collecting 23.3 million pounds of trash. The top five worst offenders:

  • Cigarette butts topped the list at approximately 5.7 million collected, followed
  • by food wrappers (just over 3.7 million),
  • plastic straws and stirrers (just under 3.7 million),
  • plastic cutlery (nearly 2 million), and
  • plastic beverage bottles (nearly 1.8 million) finishing off as

Though “Quit the Cutlery” is a motto people can follow in their day-to-day lives, Ocean Conservancy is encouraging people to help physically hit the beaches and waterways to remove trash as part of this year’s ICC. “What makes plastic pollution so unique among the challenges facing our ocean is how visible it is, and how everyone can be a force for change,” Allison Schutes, director of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, explained. “Taking part in a cleanup is often an eye-opening moment for volunteers that leads to year-round and lifelong stewardship.” Yahoo

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly September 3, 2019 at 1:47 pm

I refuse plastic forks and spoons when I order take-out and take it home. It is time to get rid of these things.


Michelle September 4, 2019 at 9:43 am

Such an easy step people can do in everyday life! I now even side-eye restaurants that give out straws!


retired botanist September 3, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Plastic cutlery SUCKS, it always has. Seriously, who likes to eat something with a hideous, and usually insufficient, white plastic fork? And just what is a plastic knife supposed to actually cut?
It is SO worth a simple one-liner “Thanks, but no plastic utensils, no straws, and no plastic carry bag”.
In doing something good for the planet, your food will taste so MUCH better… a simple dressing of conscientiousness is delicious! :-)


Rufus September 4, 2019 at 5:06 am

LOL, never seen a plastic fork or spoon at the beach. But I’ve seen lots and lots of cigarette butts, but they are getting less and less, so that’s good.


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