Last year, a large amount of marine litter accumulated on a beach in Guangdong province’s Shantou city, Chinese media outlet Jimu News reported. 

Local authorities explained that due to the winter monsoon, marine litter floating in the sea nearby drifted to the coast of Laiwu Peninsula, thus making it difficult to clear. In response, the local authorities also ensured that the coast will be cleaned at low tide every day. 

Similarly in Xiamen, the city clears about 3,000 metric tons of ocean litter annually, state broadcaster CGTN reported. A professional cleaning team patrols the port city’s 226km-long coastline daily.

According to the CGTN report, about 50 cleaning boats are sent out every day to cover the entire coast, fishing 3 to 5 tonnes of garbage out of the water each time.

Shenzhen in 2021 became the first city in China to regularly clean up floating ocean garbage in its coastal areas, Sixth Tone reported. 

Plastic waste is a growing problem. A BBC report in 2023 said that more than 171 trillion pieces of plastic are now estimated to be floating in the world’s oceans, up from around 16 trillion in 2005.

A 2023 report by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment analysing the country’s coastal areas showed that there are 3,719 pieces of garbage floating on the surface for every square kilometre of water.

The report stated that plastic accounted for the largest type of marine garbage found, at 89.8 per cent. These include foam, bags, bottles, packaging and fishing nets.

Plastic also made up the largest type of garbage found on beaches in China, at 79.1 per cent. For every square kilometre of beach surface, 46,311 pieces of garbage were found.


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