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

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

Posted on 22 February 2018
Small bits of plastic and foam topped Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup's Dirty Dozen.
© emeogan/iStock
VANCOUVER, Feb. 22, 2018 – 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

View the Dirty Dozen Story Map:
Infographics for download: 
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
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.
Jo Anne Walton, Communications Advisor, Ocean Wise,
D 604 659 3520 
Emily Vandermeer, Communications Specialist,
+1 416-489-4567 ext. 7298
Small bits of plastic and foam topped Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup's Dirty Dozen.
© emeogan/iStock Enlarge
Litter most commonly found on Canada's shores in 2017 by Shoreline Cleanup volunteers.
© Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup Enlarge