Surfrider Foundation's Annual Beach Cleanup Report Reveals Top 10 Items Found Are Plastic

30 June 2022

Today, in recognition of the upcoming Independence Day holiday that results in the 'dirtiest beach day of the year' on July 5th, the Surfrider Foundation has released its annual 2021 Beach Cleanup Report. Data collected from the organization's national Beach Cleanup program reveals that in 2021, 84% of all items removed from U.S. beaches, including the top 10 most commonly found pieces of trash, were made of plastic. The report also highlights regional updates and solutions to help solve the plastic pollution crisis. 

"Across the country, our Surfrider beach cleanup volunteers consistently find plastic pollution is a major problem on every beach," said the Surfrider Foundation's Senior Manager for the Plastic Pollution Initiative, Jennifer Savage. "As every single one of the top 10 items found were plastic, our beach cleanup data confirms that plastic is everywhere and it isn't going anywhere without large-scale legislative change."

During 2021, the Surfrider Foundation hosted a record-breaking 1,230 total beach cleanups with 15,864 volunteers who removed nearly 170,000 pounds of trash from the nation's beaches and waterways. Surfrider's Plastic Pollution Initiative uses a multi-pronged approach and the Beach Cleanup program is the first step in reducing the amount of plastic ending up in the ocean, waves and beaches.

Beach cleanups and data collection play a crucial role in enabling the public to learn more about the types of waste that end up on the nation's beaches. With this data, the Surfrider network is able to work proactively to contribute to laws at local, state and national levels to help reduce the use and production of single-use plastics. The organization also uses this information to track trends that indicate the effectiveness of policies intended to keep plastics off the beaches. 

To view results from Surfrider's Beach Cleanup Report and to find a nearby beach cleanup, visit

About the Surfrider Foundation
The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world's ocean, waves and beaches for all people through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over one million supporters, activists and members, with more than 200 volunteer-led chapters and student clubs in the U.S., and more than 800 victories protecting our coasts. Learn more at