Lake Erie cleanup sets record for volunteers, trash collected

The sixth year of the Pennsylvania-Lake Erie International Coastal Cleanup set records – 1,305 volunteers collected 55,300 items of trash throughout the Lake Erie watershed.

The Department of Environmental Protection, along with other state agencies, community leaders and organizations, organized the yearly cleanup and gave credit to two new cleanup areas in Erie for the big surge in numbers.

“Volunteers who signed up through the Erie Downtown Partnership and Little Italy Revitalization Association brought their energy and enthusiasm to areas within the watershed that had not previously been covered,” said DEP regional director Kelly Burch. “The number of trash items that were collected this year swelled to new highs in some categories. For instance, the number of cigarette butts nearly doubled from the amount we’ve recorded in past years.

The 25 volunteers who pitched in to clean up Little Italy came from Erie County Juvenile Probation, Gannon University and Skaterie. The majority of the 100 Erie Downtown Partnership volunteers were students from Gannon University.

Pennsylvania-Lake Erie International Coastal Cleanup documented every piece of trash collected including:

  • 32,004 cigarette butts and cigar tips
  • 5,165 beverage containers
  • 8,420 food wrappers/containers
  • 6,930 beverage caps/lids/straws
  • 2,781 plastic bags

In the past six years, 3,390 local volunteers have collected and documented 71,311 pounds of trash within the Lake Erie watershed. This year’s International Coastal Cleanup included more than a dozen sites, from Raccoon Creek in western Erie County to the northeast marina and Freeport Beach on the eastern end of the county.

Students from 10 Erie County schools participated in this year’s clean up.