Report Details Trash Found On Local Beaches

Soup Ladle, Conveyor Belt Among Items Discovered At Local Beaches

Cigarette butts and pieces of Styrofoam and plastic continue to be the top waste items discarded at beaches in San Diego County, according to a report released Monday.

The 2010 Beach Cleanup Data report was put together by two environmental organizations, San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation.

Volunteers at twice-monthly beach cleanups are asked to keep detailed records of the trash they remove, and the information is compiled into the report.

Cigarette butts continue to be among the most prevalent items of trash found -- around 42,000 were picked up last year -- but the total dropped some from 2009, according to the report.

The amount of Styrofoam pieces found on area beaches more than doubled from around 12,000 in 2009 to 25,000 last year.

More than 70,000 pieces of "other plastics" were reported by volunteers. Six of the top 10 collected items were composed of plastic, a concern since it floats on water and degrades very slowly.

"We presented this data to the city of San Diego last week and asked council members to not spend taxpayer money on single-use plastic water bottles and Styrofoam food containers, which harm our environment," said Alicia Glassco, San Diego Coastkeeper's education and marine debris manager.

About 9,000 plastic bottle caps were picked up before they could be eaten by sea birds.

On the less common side, items found included an electronic keyboard, a conveyor belt and a soup ladle.

Including cleanup events by I Love a Clean San Diego and other organizations, nearly 40,000 volunteers collected about 635,000 pounds of trash from San Diego waterways and coastal beaches in 2010, according to the report.

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