Nearly 400,000 Pieces Of Trash Removed From Jersey Shore Beaches

Photo courtesy Clean Ocean Action

  LONG BRANCH – Everything from cigarette butts to a giant 3-foot teddy bear were among the thousands of pieces of garbage collected off our beaches during Clean Ocean Action’s (COA) 2022 beach sweeps.

  The Long Branch-based environmental organization recently released their 2022 Beach Sweeps Report. Volunteers rallied together last year to pick up a total of 376,969 pieces of trash, according to the organization.

  Some of the most common garbage items included thousands of plastic bottle caps and lids, over 37,000 food and candy wrappers, and more than 22,000 cigarette filters.

  Amidst the garbage was the “Roster of the Ridiculous,” as COA calls it, which is the most outrageous finds during a beach sweep. Some of these wacky items included asparagus, a car muffler, handlebars from a bike, Legos and more.

Photo courtesy Clean Ocean Action

  COA’s Beach Sweeps are held twice a year with a goal to clean the environment while recording debris for data which helps with federal and state legislation.

  COA’s advocacy campaign manager Kari Martin said the data has helped push the state’s ban on single-use plastic bags and plastic-foam takeout containers, which have decreased nearly 38% since the ban.

  According to the report, volunteers removed 5,833 plastic bags; 21,216 straws and 1,689 plastic food containers in 2022.

  “We’re able to turn all of that effort into a legacy of information that we can use to change policies and to make the changes that we need to reduce litter that gets into our ocean and into our waterways,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action. “It’s is not just ugly on the beaches, but as many of you know it’s lethal or harmful to marine life.”

  During a recent press conference, COA staff explained that the amount of garbage pulled off New Jersey beaches last year dropped from 2021.

Photo courtesy Clean Ocean Action

  Disposable face masks decreased by 40%, disposable wipes also decreased by 40%, and plastic bottle caps and lids dropped 29%. Other items such as e-cigarette cartridges, dog waste bags, and disposable gloves all saw a significant decline.

  During the Q&A session, one person questioned the restriction of outdoor balloons. COA said they are currently working to find a sponsor, as balloons and their ribbons are a great threat to seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals, COA said.

  “We really need to change the public awareness about balloons. They’re beautiful. They’re fun, but they’re inside toys or things to be very careful with.,” Zipf said.

This Year’s Sweep

  The press conference relaying last year’s information had another purpose: to bring attention to this year’s clean-up.

  If you’d like to be a volunteer in the organization’s 2023 Beach Sweeps, it will be held on April 1 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. across the Jersey Shore. For a list of locations, visit