Environmental campaign “Clean beach” visits the Kotlin Island

Results of the international environmental campaign “Clean beach” on 12 September 2020 on the southern west coast of Kotlin Island (Kronshtadtsky district).

Awareness and environmental education is getting a primary role as a measure to mitigate littering of the marine environment as a consequence of coastal tourism and public recreation. It’s been recognized as an appropriate tool to raise public awareness and attract attention to the problem, inspiring new actors, e.g. local authorities, to join the measures to prevent littering of the marine environment. Being regularly arranges such campaigns could also contribute into widening of the knowledge base on top items constituting marine litter and probably elaborate appropriate measures to mitigate this type of environmental pressure.

International environmental campaign "Clean beach" is carried out in the frame of cooperation between Saint-Petersburg (Russia) and such cities of Baltic region as Tallinn (Estonia), Helsinki and Turku (Finland) with aim of developing youth cooperation in the field of environmental protection, improving the ecological culture of citizens, developing environmental volunteer movement. “Clean beach” campaign is contributes to the implementation of the HELCOM Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter (the HELCOM RAP ML), which aims to decrease marine litter by 2025.

Aim of the campaign is not only to clean up the beaches with help of volunteers, but also in environmental education, as well as raising awareness about the problems of pollution with litter of the Baltic Sea and other water bodies.

This year, the campaign was held for the 7th time on the southern-west coast of Kotlin island (Kronstadt) in the Gulf of Finland on 12 September. The campaign "Clean beach" was organized by the Committee for Nature Use, Environmental Protection and Ecological Safety of the city of St. Petersburg, and the operator was SC “Mineral”.

The campaign "Clean beach" is one of the largest environmental and educational events in Saint Petersburg, where environmental quest and competitions are held together with the cleaning of coastal areas.

This year, about 500 people took part in the campaign, including representatives of 2 city administrations, 16 Universities, 2 Colleges and 1 school, representatives of 5 public organizations, youth and environmental centers, and citizens of St. Petersburg interested in environmental initiatives.

The event was started with official greetings by Denis Belyaev, Chairman the Committee for Nature Use, Environmental Protection and Ecological Safety of the city of St. Petersburg, Oleg Dovganyuk, Head of the Kronshtadtsky district administration in St. Petersburg, and Anna Laine, Consul for media relations and culture at the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg. Björn Grönholm, Head of the Secretariat of Sustainable Cities Commission of the Union of Baltic cities, and the Executive Secretary of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM) Rüdiger Strempel were not able to attend the campaign in person, so participants were shown their video messages.

Video message by Björn Grönholm.

Video message by Björn Grönholm, Head of the Secretariat of Sustainable Cities Commission of the Union of Baltic Cities

Mr. Grönholm welcomed the participants of the campaign and noted, that “the Clean beach event is really important both for us here in Turku, and also for St. Petersburg too. And a value of exchanging of experience between two our cities and learning how we, our cities and our citizens, can take a more responsible way of living.

Video message by Rüdiger Strempel.

Video message by Rüdiger Strempel, the Executive Secretary of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM)

Mr. Strempel in his video message emphasized on the fact that ”marine litter is of major concern, because it can cause direct harm to wildlife such as choking or injury”. Expressing concern about the situation with plastic pollution in the sea, Mr. Strempel noted “initiatives like the “Clean beach” campaign truly help to tackle the problem, not only through raising awareness but also by contributing to the implementation of the HELCOM Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter which aims to decrease marine litter by 2025.

In addition, a video by WFO (Waste Free Oceans) was shown during event and results of the campaign was sent to the organization.

The campaign included an eco-awareness quest consisting of two parts: stations with various tasks dedicated to existing environmental problems, in particular separate waste collection and further applying the knowledge gained when cleaning the coastal territory.

The participants of the campaign cleaning the coast.

Waste was collected in separate bags: mixed waste, plastic, glass and metal. In addition, participants collected used car tires. One operator (“Petro Wast”) was responsible for mixed waste and solid plastic, while the other (“Plitpolimer”) collected what was recyclable and transfer to the waste processing plant for further disposal. A lot of car tires were also found on the beach, which were taken out by the company "Premio Crumb” as part of the "NOKIAN ECO CHALLENGE" project. In the future, these tires are processed into rubber chips, which are then used in road construction, when laying sports surfaces, for the production of rubber tiles and other products.

The participants of the campaign hand over tires for recycling.

Main results:

  • cleaned 84 000 m2 of territory
  • more than 500 bags of waste
  • 400 car tires (about 24 tons)
  • 14 m3 of mixed waste
  • 88 kg of PET
  • 32 kg of HDPE and 9 kg of plastic bags
  • 450kg glass
  • 90kg metal

As part of the campaign in parallel with cleaning, was held monitoring of marine litter on the beach using the HELCOM methodology. To reduce the amount of incoming litter, it is important not only to regularly clean up and systematically improve the environmental culture and commitment to environmentally friendly behavior among the population, but also to identify the "sources" of litter on beaches in order to implement measures to reduce its quantity and generally prevent its occurrence.

Monitoring was carried out with the help of volunteers, who were given special instructions on collecting and sorting marine litter and the rules for filling out a questionnaire in the process of describing the found litter. It is important to note that the aim of monitoring is to describe the qualitative composition of litter on the beach for further analysis of its sources.

The monitoring method is a structured approach to the collection, sorting and analysis of macro-litter (samples larger than 2.5 cm) found on a selected beach area of at least 100 m. The following pollutants were detected during monitoring:

  • 188 bases of plastic cotton swabs
  • 70 unidentified soft plastic packages
  • 29 pieces of processed wood
  • 14 pieces of construction debris
  • 9 disposable plastic cups
  • 6 plastic balloon ropes and 1 balloon
  • 4 plastic caps
  • 3 cigarette butts and 1 pack of cigarettes
  • 2 packages of sweets and chips
  • 2 candy sticks
  • 1 pack-t-shirt
  • 1 tube of sunscreen
  • 1 piece of fabric

Such monitoring allows to accumulate statistical information on the frequency of occurrence of a particular type of litter and trends in the composition of litter. The information obtained is integrated into regional reports on the analysis and management of marine litter, contributing to the implementation of Baltic-wide approaches to solving important issues related to the sustainable development of the Baltic sea region.

Results of international environmental campaign “Clean beach – 2020” will be submitted by Russia to 5th HELCOM Workshop on implementation of the Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter 12 October 2020 (WS RAP ML 5-2020).

The cities of the Baltic Sea Region are highly encouraged to join Clean Beach campaign!

The monitoring of marine litter on the beach using the HELCOM methodology.