Alarming amounts of single-use plastics collected during ICC 2022

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — On Saturday September 25th, more than 100 volunteers attended this year’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) at Little Bay Beach & Pond, near Belair, hosted by the St. Maarten Pride Foundation, in collaboration with Environmental Protection in the Caribbean Sint Maarten (EPIC). A total of 1480.5 pounds of trash was collected, of which 692.4lbs were glass and plastic bottles. This was excluding heavy construction material also found during the cleanup.

Massive amounts of plastic bottles were found hidden amongst the mangroves surrounding Little Bay Pond. “It looks like a never-ending sea of plastic,” various volunteers commented, who ventured knee-deep into the pond to pull out litter and debris. EPIC will continue cleanup efforts on Sint Maarten in the months to come. Communities who would like to organise a cleanup are encouraged to reach out to the Foundation.

Volunteers collected data using the Clean Swell app, recording the items they found and also separated plastic and glass bottles during the cleanup, which were picked up by Meadowlands for recycling. Riddhi Samtani, who coordinated the event on behalf of the PRIDE Foundation and EPIC, said: “Thank you to all who spent their Saturday morning to support and volunteer at this year’s ICC! Today you helped clear large amounts of litter to protect our environment and assisted in ensuring that we have the data at hand to advocate for more environmental protection and activities.”

Many community groups, businesses, and students from schools supported by volunteering for the cleanup such as: Hillside Belair Foundation, National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB), St. Dominic School, Learning Unlimited, Alpha Leo Club, Interact Club, St. Maarten Academy, Milton Peters College, Cay Hill Community Council, Police Force of St Maarten, staff members of the Ministry of VROMI and many other individuals.

EPIC partnered with the Hillside Belair Foundation who started the cleanup in the Belair neighborhood to collect additional litter in their community, later joining the wider group. Meadowlands provided assistance with waste collection and supporting volunteers to better access littered areas. Several businesses also donated prizes toward the cleanup to reward volunteers; which will be presented to winning teams next week.

The International Coastal Cleanup, an initiative by the Ocean Conservancy happens annually on a global scale. Going back to 1986, the Ocean Conservancy estimates that 350 million pounds of trash has been removed from global beaches and waterways since the event began. Sint Maarten has been participating in the International Coastal Cleanup annually for over 20 years.

The cleanup is also part of EPIC’s “Why do we litter? – Sint Maarten” project funded by R4CR. During the cleanup volunteers collected valuable data to identify littering challenges in various neighborhoods on Sint Maarten. With this data EPIC aims to formulate recommendations and sustainable actions to improve waste management on Sint Maarten.

Updates about this project and additional cleanup dates can be found on EPIC’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/epicislands. For more information or inquiries into collaborations, please contact the Project Coordinators at projects@epicislands.org.

EPIC Sint Maarten is a non-profit organisation founded in 2007 with the mission of protecting the Caribbean environment through research and community-based action in Sint Maarten. This project, “Why do we litter – Sint Maarten?”, is funded by the Government of the Netherlands under the Sint Maarten Trustfund, implemented by Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR), administered by VNGI, and overseen by The WorldBank. For more information about EPIC’s work visit: www.epicislands.org.