Clean Ocean Action

Reducing Sources of Litter in the Ocean

Want to See Less Plastic in the Ocean and on Beaches?

Support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act!

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act was introduced on March 25, 2021, in the US Senate and US House of Representatives led by Senator Merkeley (D-OR) and Representative Lowenthal (D-CA), respectively. The time is now to pass a comprehensive nation law that will effectively reduce plastic manufacturing, especially single-use plastics, and reduce consumption to break our plastic addiction. The bill has several important components:

  • creates a nationwide bottle bill
  • establishes minimum recycled content requirements for beverage containers and requiring regulations after two years on all recycled content
  • prohibits single-use carryout bags
  • develops standardized recycling and composting labels
  • temporarily pauses the permitting and construction of new plastic production facilities, and
  • phases-out additional single-use plastic items.


  1. Call your US Senators and US Representative. To find your Senator, type your zipcode at To find your US Representative, type your zipcode at

  2. Urge your Senators and Congress member co-sponsor and support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.



The goal of COA's Reduce Litter in the Delaware River project is to monitor litter and reduce the land-based sources of trash that contribute to pollution in and along the river, and that ultimately flow into the ocean. COA hosted a webinar about the project on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. Watch the webinar recording and view the presentation slides. 

To learn more about the project and COA's findings, read the Litter Assessment along the Delaware River: Citizen Science Progress Report.

To get involved in COA's work along the Delaware River, email

What is Marine Debris?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Coast Guard define marine debris as "Marine debris is any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes." 

For more on the NOAA Marine Debris Program, visit:

COA works with federal, state, and local elected officials, businesses, and environmental groups to find and stop sources of marine debris pollution and that pollution, dumping, and littering laws are enforced so that our beaches and oceans can become trash-free.

Want to Help?

Join us for our annual Beach Sweeps to join the thousands of public volunteers at over 70 New Jersey Beaches to remove trash, collect information on the trash, and advocate for a debris-free coastline!

Marine Debris Photos:

For examples of beach debris, click on these photos taken by Emily Hackett at a New Jersey Beach:

Litter and trash washing-up on beaches is an alarming, harms wildlife, ruins days at the beach, and threatens industries that depend on a clean ocean and clean beaches. The sources of the litter and debris is almost always from land: from both nonpoint source and point source pollution.

Marine debris results from people littering, overflowing waste collection areas. Rain and wind wash debris on streets, roadways, driveways, parking lots, lawns, and other surfaces to our waterways. Marine debris can also come from specific point sources. Debris from combined sewer overflow (CSO) pipes in northern New Jersey cities and the five boroughs of New York City can bring both untreated sewage and rainwater runoff from streets and parking lots to waterways in this region with between one tenth (0.10) and one quarter (0.25) of an inch of rain.  This means litter, pesticides, fertilizers, as well as items washed down toilets, sinks, and shower drains -- sewage, in general -- are dumped without treatment into our rivers and bays, which lead to the ocean.

The New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program Floatables Action Plan (FAP) is a multi-federal and state agency program that monitors for garbage slicks to prevent trash from escaping the harbor and fouling area beaches.  The program is the responsibility of the US Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 office and US Army Corps of Engineers, as well as the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, NY City Department of Environmental Protection, and the US Coast Guard.  If the program was properly implemented, garbage "slicks" and wash-ups would be identified from routine surveillance by helicopter and cleaned-up by boats that skim debris off the surface of harbor waters. 


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