UPDATED: DE Coastal Cleanup Changes to Month-long Event


UPDATED – 8/30/20 – This year’s Coastal Cleanup has moved from a one-day event with hundreds of people scouring Delaware’s 97 miles of coastline for trash into a month-long campaign to keep the state’s beaches and waterways free of trash. Delawareans and visitors are encouraged to make a special effort during September to keep communities and natural areas in the First State clean through personal commitment and support of the Governor’s Keep Delaware Litter Free initiative. Volunteers can report their findings all month on the updated Delaware Coastal Cleanup app (which will be posted at the DNREC website). The 2019 Coastal Cleanup collected 3.6 tons of trash and recyclables on more that 125 miles of Delaware coastline and waterways.

DNREC suggests several ways to make a difference all year long:

  • Pick up trash near your home to keep your neighborhood clean
  • Follow a carry-in/carry-out plan and take all trash with you when visiting outdoor spaces, like Delaware State Parks, wildlife areas, reserves, county or local parks
  • Pack a disposable bag and rubber gloves when you take a walk, go for a hike, go hunting or fishing, etc., to collect and carry out trash you find along the way
  • Recycle applicable items through in-home recycling or designated drop-off locations – learn more at Delaware Recycles.

DNREC reminds everyone to wear gloves when picking up trash, wash hands thoroughly after cleanup activities, be mindful of social distancing requirements, wear face coverings when near others, follow all public area protocols and be safe.

For more information, visit Delaware Coastal Cleanup or email DNREC_Coastal_Cleanup@delaware.gov.


Volunteers are encouraged to mark their 2020 calendars now for the DNREC-sponsored 33rd annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup, tentatively planned for 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 12, with signup for large volunteer groups beginning in July, and overall volunteer registration opening in August. The cleanup spans the First State’s 97-mile eastern coastline and includes river and ocean shorelines as well as wetland and watershed areas.  

For the 2020 event, precautions will be taken to ensure the health and safety of cleanup participants, who are spread out across 40 to 50 locations throughout the state, working outside and generally in groups no bigger than 10 to 15. To ensure the health and safety of all participants, planning for this year’s event covers a wide range of contingencies, including possible cancellation, with decisions to be based on the most current coronavirus conditions.

Volunteer registration will be posted online at https://de.gov/coastalcleanup Aug. 1. Groups of 10 or more are strongly encouraged to pre-register by emailing DNREC_Coastal_Cleanup@delaware.gov.

DNREC organizes Delaware’s Coastal Cleanup as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup. The Delaware Coastal Cleanup promotes clean beaches, waterways, wetlands and watersheds in support of Keep DE Litter Free, Governor John Carney’s statewide anti-litter initiative.

Last year’s Delaware Coastal Cleanup, which was held Sept. 14, 2019, drew 1,931 volunteers, who collected 3.6 tons of trash and recyclables from 46 sites along more than 125 miles of Delaware’s waterways and coastline stretching from Wilmington to Fenwick Island.

Numbers increased for many common items. Food/beverage-related trash items nearly doubled to 42,462 pieces, including:

  • 4,268 food wrappers
  • 4,043 plastic beverage bottles
  • 2,444 beverage cans
  • 1,453 glass bottles
  • 2,851 paper, plastic and foam cups, plates and take-out containers

Common plastic items showed changes: 2,172 plastic bags, increased from 1,946; 2,397 straws and stirrers, decreased from 2,738; 1,434 plastic lids, up from 1,116; and 6,319 plastic bottle caps, down from 7,026.

Other notable items found:

  • 66 tires
  • 119 shotgun shells
  • 13,168 cigarette butts and cigar tips
  • 517 balloons
  • Dozens of sports balls, including golf, football, tennis, lacrosse, whiffle, and basketballs, as well as Frisbees.

Some of the more unusual items found were: a wedding dress, Nerf gun foam bullet, life jacket, sippy cup, mouth guard, bike pedal, flea collar, cooler handle, bushel basket, guitar pick, a “rubbery blob,” brake rotor, car bumper, garden rake, polyvinyl chloride pipe, half an anchor, mattress springs, large commercial fishnet, plastic pumpkin, plush unicorn, two boxes of fireworks, shopping cart wheel, Easter egg, baby shoes, ladder, luxury condos sign, vintage baby doll, lip gloss, duct tape, crab pot, an artificial  Christmas tree, an Adopt-A-Highway sign, cellphone, pop-up tent, ear buds, broken canopies, tent spike, toilet seats, sledgehammer, nose clip, kitchen towel, lawn chair, boat propeller, dog bone, two baby strollers, four television sets at one site, a floating dock, a car engine and a tire attached to a partially buried car, and 348 all-the-same-brand beer cans in one location.

As part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, the types and quantities of trash collected in Delaware are recorded on data cards and forwarded by DNREC to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles the information to help identify debris sources and focus efforts on elimination or reduction. For more information, visit www.oceanconservancy.org.