Ecosystem Targets and Supporting Indicators
Marine debris comes in all different, shapes, sizes, and forms. During coastal clean-ups, organizations will categorize the marine debris being collected to determine specific trends. Using data from The Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Information and Data for Education and Solutions (TIDES) database, from 2013 to 2021, LISS reports a decrease in marine debris collected per mile during coastal clean-ups in the following categories: plastic bags (NY-94%; CT-97%), balloons (NY-88%; CT-94%), cigarettes (NY-94%; CT-95%), styrofoam (NY-85%; CT-96%), foam cups and plates (NY-98%; CT-100%); bottle caps (NY-16%; CT-41%); plastic bottles (NY-86%; CT-82%); and straws/stirrers (NY-72%; CT-88%) . These declines may coincide with various bans implemented in New York and Connecticut municipalities. For example, New York and Connecticut, starting March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 respectively, have implemented state-wide plastic bag bans and fees to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags. Prior to these state-wide bans, individual municipalities have implemented their own bans to jumpstart the initiative. Similar bans for balloons and styrofoam containers and packaging have also been implemented.
On the other hand, some categories do experience percent increases such as construction materials and personal protective equipment (i.e., rubber gloves, masks). Construction materials experience a percent increase of 57 and 38 percent for New York and Connecticut, respectively. These increases may be attributed to the increases in development along the coastline as well as increases in frequency and intensity of storms exacerbated by climate change. Although the personal protective equipment had only started being categorized by the International Coastal Cleanup in 2019, the percent increase is 87 and 36 percent for New York and Connecticut, respectively.