The River Cleanup organisation is looking to rally more than 5,000 people in Belgium to pick up litter on World Cleanup Day at the end of September. “The recent floods make these actions even more necessary,” the organisers said in a statement on Friday.
Like every year, World Cleanup Day will take place on the third weekend of September. During this major clean-up action, millions of people in over 150 countries clean up litter.
This year, “the heavy rains and floods in mid-July have pushed even more waste and debris into our rivers”, the River Cleanup association said. “It is estimated that around 1.5 million tonnes of waste found its way into our rivers. Action in towns and cities with rivers running through them is therefore absolutely necessary.”
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In Belgium, the organisations River Cleanup, Eneco Clean Beach Cup, World Cleanup Day Belgium, Mooimakers and Be WaPP/Wallonie Plus Propre are joining forces to get as many volunteers as possible for this initiative. Together with local partners and action groups, River Cleanup is organising large-scale actions in Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Dendermonde on Saturday 18 September, in Namur on Saturday 25 September and in Pepinster on 26 September.
According to the UN, some 11 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year. If policies remain unchanged, the amount of plastic waste emitted from cities is expected to double by 2040, the amount of plastic waste dumped into the oceans is expected to almost triple and the amount of plastic waste already in our oceans to quadruple.
While one-off waste clean-up efforts are increasing, they are hardly a remedy for ocean pollution. According to the UN, reducing plastic waste requires systemic policies as well as a change in the plastic economy.