"Top Ten" Lists for Virginia

Data shown below are collected by volunteers during the annual Virginia Waterways Cleanup (part of the International Coastal Cleanup).

Top of the list EVERY year: Convenience food items (bottles, cans, food wrappers, straws, etc.) and smoking-related litter are annually found on Virginia's Top Ten List. These are the items most frequently found by volunteers during the International Coastal Cleanup in Virginia. Sometimes fishing related litter and balloons join the Top Ten.
If we could eliminate the Top Ten items, then we would also eliminate about 85% of the litter found in Virginia!

Students: Look at these Top Ten Lists from several years, and see if you can find trends in the data.

2011 Top Ten in Virginia

Item

 

Number found

 

Per Cent of Total

 

 

1. Food Wrappers and Containers 17895

17.13 %

 

2. Beverage Bottles (Plastic) 2 liters or less

12282

11.76 %

 
3. Bags (plastic) 9895

9.47 %

 
4. Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters 9660

9.25 %

 
5. Cups/Plates/Forks/Knives/Spoons 9116

8.73 %

 
6. Tires! 7634

7.31 %

 
7. Beverage Bottles (Glass) 6506

6.23 %

 
8. Beverage Cans 6184

5.92 %

 
9. Caps/Lids 5418

5.19 %

 
10. Straws/Stirrers 3615

3.46 %

 

These ten categories represented 84.45 % of the trash picked up from Virginia’s rivers and beaches during the 2011 Virginia Waterways Cleanup. Note that the top three items, plus items #5, 7, 8, 9,and 10 are all food and drink related. Cigarette butts fell to 4th place. Tires made the Virginia Top Ten for the first time ever thanks to dedicated volunteers who removed approximately 7000 tires from one river location! Compare the 2011 list with previous years. Are there any trends you see?

2010 Top Ten in Virginia

Item

 

Number found

 

Per Cent of Total

 

 

1. Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters 19,107

14.49 %

 

2. Beverage Bottles (Plastic) 2 liters or less

18,100

13.73 %

 
3. Bags (plastic) 15,616

11.84 %

 
4. Food Wrappers and Containers 15,559

11.80 %

 
5. Beverage Cans 11,015

8.35 %

 
6. Cups/Plates/Forks/Knives/Spoons 10,808

8.20 %

 
7. Beverage Bottles (Glass) 9,377

7.11 %

 
8. Caps/Lids 7,340

5.57 %

 
9. Straws/Stirrers 3,258

2.47 %

 
10. Bags (paper) 2,177

1.65 %

 

These ten categories represented 85.20 % of the trash picked up from Virginia’s rivers and beaches during the 2010 Virginia Waterways Cleanup. Cigarette butts are on top of the list again. Food and beverage packaging dominate the rest of the list. Compare the 2010 list with previous years. Are there any trends you see?

2009 Top Ten in Virginia

Item

 

Number found

 

Per Cent of Total

 

 

1. Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters 14,679

13.91 %

 

2. Beverage Bottles (Plastic) 2 liters or less

13,297

12.60 %

 
3. Beverage Cans 12,942

12.26 %

 
4. Bags (plastic) 10,642

10.08 %

 
5. Food Wrappers and Containers 10,249

9.71 %

 
6. Cups/Plates/Forks/Knives/Spoons 9,995

9.47 %

 
7. Beverage Bottles (Glass) 7,910

7.50 %

 
8. Caps/Lids 6,577

6.12 %

 
9. Straws/Stirrers 3,838

3.64 %

 
10. Bags (paper) 2,487

2.36 %

 

These ten categories represented 87.77 % of the trash picked up from Virginia’s rivers and beaches. Cigarette butts are on top of the list again. Food and beverage packaging dominate the rest of the list.

2008 Top Ten in Virginia

Item

 

Number found

 

Per Cent of Total

 

 

1. Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters 17,607

16.06 %

 

2. Food Wrappers and Containers

15,231

13.90 %

 
3. Beverage Bottles (Plastic) 2 liters or less 13,499

12.32 %

 
4. Beverage Cans 11,838

10.80 %

 
5. Beverage Bottles (Glass) 10,571

9.64 %

 
6. Bags (plastic) 9,273

8.46 %

 
7. Cups/Plates/Forks/Knives/Spoons 5,966

5.44 %

 
8. Caps/Lids 5,695

5.20 %

 
9. Straws/Stirrers 2,603

2.37 %

 
10. Bags (paper) 2,332

2.13 %

 

No surprises in the data collected by volunteers in 2008! These ten categories represented 86.32 % of the trash picked up from Virginia’s rivers and beaches. Cigarette butts are on top of the list. Food and beverage packaging dominate the rest of the list.

2007 Top Ten in Virginia

Item

 

Number found

 

Per Cent of Total

 

 

1. Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters 28,600

19.5 %

 

2. Beverage Bottles (Plastic) 2 liters or less

24,638

16.8 %

 
3. Food Wrappers and Containers 17,831

12.2 %

 
4. Bags 13,973

9.5 %

 
5. Beverage Cans 11,147

7.6 %

 
6. Beverage Bottles (Glass) 9,885

6.7 %

 
7. Cups/Plates/Forks/Knives/Spoons 7,796

5.3 %

 
8. Caps/Lids 5,464

3.7 %

 
9. Building Supplies 4,728

3.2 %

 
10. Straws/Stirrers 2,429

1.7 %

 

In 2007, these ten categories represented 86.2 % of the trash picked up from Virginia’s rivers and beaches. Cigarette butts are on top of the list. Food and beverage packaging dominate the rest of the list. Builidng supplies (often construction waste) made Virginia's Top Ten for the first time.

2006 Top Ten in Virginia

Item

 

Number found

 

Per Cent of Total

 

1. Beverage Bottles (Plastic) 2 liters or less

9729

13.5%

 
2. Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters

9542

13.3%

 
3. Bags

8364

11.6%

 
4. Food Wrappers and Containers

7537

10.5%

 
5. Beverage Cans

7418

10.3%

 
6. Beverage Bottles (Glass)

7400

10.3%

 
7. Cups/Plates/Forks/Knives/Spoons

4083

5.7%

 
8. Caps/Lids

3992

5.5%

 
9. Straws/Stirrers

2066

2.9%

 
10. Balloons

1279

1.8%

 

In 2006, these ten categories represented 85.4% of the trash picked up from Virginia’s rivers and beaches. Plastic beverage bottles are on top of the list. Food and beverage packaging and cigarette butts dominate the rest of the list. Once again, balloons made the top ten list -- an indication that this is a serious and continuing problem.

2005 Top Ten in Virginia

Debris Item
Number of Items
Percent of Total

1. Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters

11,974

17.8%

2. Beverage Bottles (Plastic) 2 liters or less

8,531

12.7%

3. Food Wrappers and Containers

7,677

11.4%

4. Beverage Bottles (Glass)

6,241

9.3%

5. Beverage Cans

5,799

8.6%

6. Bags

4,959

7.4%

7. Caps/Lids

3,427

5.1%

8. Cups/Plates/Forks/ Knives/Spoons

3,133

4.6%

9. Straws/Stirrers

1,514

2.2%

10. Balloons

1,332

2.0%

Totals:

54,587

80.9%

In 2005, these ten categories represented 80.9% of the trash picked up from Virginia’s rivers and beaches. Cigarettes butts are back on top of the list. Food and beverage packaging dominates the rest of the list. The biggest story is that balloons made the top ten list. This should not be a surprise to the Site Captains who have their cleanups on Virginia’s beaches. While balloons that fall on land stay where they fall, the balloons that fall in the ocean or in the Chesapeake Bay wash up on the shore, where volunteers find them in great numbers.

2004 Top Ten in Virginia

Debris Item
Number of Items
Percent of Total
1. Beverage Bottles (Plastic) 2 liters or less
13,703
15.6 %
2. Beverage Bottles (Glass)
12,692
14.4%
3. Food Wrappers/Containers
10,543
12.0 %
4. Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters
8,896
10.1 %
5. Beverage Cans
8,774
10.0 %
6. Bags
6,883
7.8 %
7. Caps, Lids
5,571
6.3 %
8. Cups, Plates, Forks, Knives, Spoons
5,100
5.8 %
9. Straws / Stirrers
1,714
2.1 %
10. Balloons
1,478
1.7 %
Totals:
75,454
85.8%

2003 Top Ten in Virginia

Debris Item Number of Items Percent of Total
1. Beverage Bottles (Plastic) 2 liters or less
12,527
24.6%
2. Food Wrappers/Containers
7,848
15.4%
3. Beverage Cans
6,220
12.2%
4. Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters
4,564
9.0%
5. Beverage Bottles (Glass)
4,078
8.0%
6. Bags
3,430
6.7%
7. Cups, Plates, Forks, Knives, Spoons
3,033
6.0%
8. Caps, Lids
2,471
4.9%
9. Bait Containers/Packaging
802
1.6%
10. Cigarette Lighters
701
1.4%
Totals:
45,674
89.8%

2002 Top Ten in Virginia

Debris Item Number of Items Percent of Total
1. Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters
9,775
24.8%
2. Food Wrappers/Containers
4,210
10.7%
3. Beverage Bottles (Glass)
3,714
9.4%
4. Beverage Bottles (Plastic) 2 liters or less
3,630
9.2%
5. Beverage Cans
3,233
8.2%
6. Caps, Lids
2,357
6.0%
7. Cups, Plates, Forks, Knives, Spoons
2,219
5.6%
8. Bags
2,091
5.3%
9. Balloons
1,180
3.0%
10. Straws, Stirrers
891
2.3%
Totals:
33,300
84.5%

2001 Top Ten in Virginia

Debris Item Number of Items Percent of Total
1. bags/food wrappers
11,452
14.9%
2. beverage bottles (plastic) 2 liters or less
11,362
14.8%
3. cigarettes/cigarette filters
11,193
14.6%
4. beverage bottles (glass)
9,045
11.8%
5. beverage cans
6,657
8.7%
6. cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons
5,718
7.4%
7. caps, lids
4,214
5.5%
8. fast-food containers
2,348
3.1%
9. straws, stirrers
2,066
2.7%
10. tobacco packaging/wrappers
1,388
1.8%
Total:
65,443
85.2%

How does the "Top Ten" list from Virginia compare with the U.S. and the World "Top Ten" lists? Click here to find out!

This young woman is recording the litter and debris that other volunteers are collecting during the International Coastal Cleanup in Virginia.

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