Persistent marine litter: small plastics and cigarette butts remain on beaches after organized beach cleanups

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, Volume 190: 414


Cyprus is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean whose economy is largely dependent on coastal tourism. It boasts some of the cleanest waters in Europe and has the largest number of Blue Flag awarded beaches per capita in the world. These beaches are managed by local authorities and are regularly cleaned, throughout the year, at least once per day. This paper presents findings from cleanups that were organized over the summers of 2016 and 2017 on nine Blue Flag beaches around the island of Cyprus, after the beaches were cleaned by the responsible authorities. The aim was to answer the following questions: ‘Are regular beach cleanups by local authorities efficient?’ and ‘What is left on a “clean” beach?’ The results suggest that local authority cleanup efforts are quite successful at collecting larger pieces of marine litter, leaving the beach seemingly clean. However, small pieces of litter, such as cigarette butts and small pieces of plastic items related to recreational activities, remain on the beach. They likely accumulate or are buried over time, with some items becoming a nuisance to beach goers and a potential source of marine litter.