Plastics top ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of litter found on Canada’s shores

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup’s® latest report shows the smallest pieces of litter are a big problem

Toroto, Ontario, CANADA

VANCOUVER, Feb. 22, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Tiny plastic and foam fragments topped the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup’s annual “Dirty Dozen” list, which reports on the types of litter most commonly found on Canada’s marine and freshwater shores.

More than 330,000 tiny pieces of plastic and foam debris were collected by Shoreline Cleanup volunteers from 1,849 cleanups that covered more than 2,800 kilometres of shoreline in 2017.

Plastic bottles, caps and bags were also high on the list of offenders. Around the world, the equivalent of one dump truck load of plastic enters the oceans every minute, impacting hundreds of marine species.

“Once in the water, plastic never goes away. It breaks up into increasingly smaller pieces known as microplastics that are next to impossible to remove, and are found throughout the food chain, from tiny zooplankton to marine mammals,” says Rachel Schoeler, Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup manager. “That’s why we’re working to keep shorelines clean. To stop plastic from entering the water in the first place.”

A conservation partnership of Ocean Wise® and World Wildlife Fund Canada, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, the Great Canadian Shoreline is one of the largest direct-action conservation programs in the country. Year after year, volunteers play a critical role in helping reduce plastic pollution in coastal and freshwater bodies.

Last year alone more than 58,000 people removed 88,700 kilograms of garbage that otherwise would have entered the water, impacting wildlife and ecosystems. Citizen science data, collected by Shoreline Cleanup volunteers, is shared with the International Coastal Cleanup to help support scientific research on marine and coastal pollution.

“The data collected underscores just how prevalent plastic pollution is in Canada’s own oceans, lakes, wetlands and rivers. What can be seen and cleaned from the shore is just the tip of the iceberg. Microplastics, the invisible remnants of things such as plastic bags, synthetic clothing and bottles, are found in our waters at an alarming rate,” says Megan Leslie, World Wildlife Fund Canada president and CEO. “Wildlife such as fish, birds and turtles mistake microplastics for food or become entangled in larger plastics. Every piece of garbage we remove from our shorelines is one less piece that can harm wildlife.”

Join thousands of volunteers helping to keep our shorelines healthy. Register today at

Dirty Dozen 2017
1.            Tiny Plastic and Foam – 333,289

2.            Cigarette Butts – 244,734

3.            Plastic Bottles – 50,285

4.            Food Wrappers – 47,466

5.            Bottle Caps – 38,624

6.            Paper materials – 22,877

7.            Plastic Bags – 22,724

8.            Miscellaneous Packaging – 18,465

9.            Straws – 17,654

10.          Foam Materials – 17,527

11.          Beverage Cans – 17,337

12.          Rope (1 piece = 1 metre) – 11,365


Dirty Dozen Infographic and Photos: Dirty

Dirty Dozen Map:  

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, is one of the largest direct-action conservation programs in Canada. A conservation partnership by Ocean Wise and WWF-Canada, the Shoreline Cleanup aims to promote understanding of shoreline litter issues by engaging Canadians to rehabilitate shoreline areas through cleanups.

Ocean Wise®

Ocean Wise is a not-for-profit organization whose vision is a world in which oceans are healthy and flourishing.  

World Wildlife Fund Canada 

WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit

Loblaw Companies Limited

Loblaw Companies Limited is Canada’s food and pharmacy leader, the nation’s largest retailer, and the majority unit holder of Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust.


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


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