Food wrappers are now the most prevalent trash item on beaches

Since 1986, cigarette butts have been the most common item collected from beaches and waterways—until now. For the first time, food wrappers were the most collected item, a sign of how big single-use packaging has become a problem. Each year, the Ocean Conservancy carries out an international coastal efforts cleanup. In 2019, more than 940,000 volunteers across 116 countries collected nearly 32.5 million pieces of trash, Fast Company reports. The Conservancy says in the early days of the effort, glass bottles, metal caps, and paper bags were common among the collected items. However, since 2017 the top 10 items now all consist of plastic.

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