The 2020 Clean-Up & Recycle SA week took place from 14 – 19 September 2020, culminating in National Recycling Day on Friday, 18 September 2020 and South Africa’s 24th year of participating in the annual International Coastal Clean-Up Day which took place on Saturday, 19 September.

“With an emphasis on COVID-safe clean-ups this year, we asked coordinators to keep the numbers of volunteers to below fifty. We spread the message that South Africans should be eco-warriors in their own neighbourhoods instead, by picking up any litter they saw strewn in streets or at inland water sources such as rivers, streams or canals. Despite the lower than usual turn-out, it was encouraging to see volunteers from all walks of life, of different ages and stages showing up at the various clean-ups to help remove litter from our country’s beaches, rivers, canals and other open areas,” reports John Kieser, Sustainability Manager at Plastics|SA and national coordinator of the ICC.
According to John, strict hygiene protocols were in place at all the clean-ups and volunteers were very good about adhering to the request to ensure that they wear their masks and maintain social distancing.
“The world has just gone through a very hard and difficult period in our history with the COVID-19 pandemic. The participation throughout this year’s Clean-Up & Recycle SA week showed that goodness prevails. It was great to see so many businesses, government and community organisations, clubs, schools and individuals show their heart for the cause,” he said.
The KZN Marine Waste Network South Coast,  used the day to launch the Inkwazi Isu (Fish Eagle Project) and the Unimog and beach rake at Amanzimtoti  – an event that was attended by Minister Barabara Creecy of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). She also supported a beach clean-up at Dakota beach, Umbogintwini, where 697 bags were collected with a weight of over 2.4 tons. What makes this accomplishment even more impressive, is that almost 90% of the litter collected at these events, was sorted to be recycled.
Plastics|SA thanks all the coordinators who were in charge of the various clean-ups, the volunteers who showed up to offer their time and energy, the various sponsors who made the day possible and the media who helped to raise awareness of the day.
“From Amanzimtoti to Zeekoevlei, from the Addo Elephant Park to Yzerfontein, we continue to receive wonderful reports and photographs of how South Africans of different ages, races, classes and backgrounds joined forces around the collective goal of cleaning up our environment. Everyone who participated were the true heroes who helped to make the day a huge success. The spirit of camaraderie, positivity and willingness to make a difference in our environment, definitely made this one of the stand-out years that will not be forgotten!” John concluded.
Highlights of this year’s International Coastal Clean-Up reported from the Cape Provinces:
There were 72 audited clean-ups covering a total area of 36 km. During these clean-ups, volunteers were requested to count each item they collected in order to complete the Ocean Conservancy’s audit sheets. 
There were 14 audited clean-ups that used the Dirty Dozen questionnaire, each covering an average of 500 meters. A total distance of 7 km was covered by these volunteers.
37 clean-ups preferred to use mobile applications, e.g. Clean Swell. These volunteers covered and audited an area of approximately 18, 5 km.
Audit reports covering a total beach distance of 336 km were received. 
Fifteen clean-ups by various 4×4 clubs took place, each covering a distance of between 10 and 15 km. The West Coast 4×4 group reported that they covered a distance of 25 km, bringing the total covered to approximately 180 km.
Four underwater clean-ups took place, each with a volume of 10 000 m².  In total, these divers cleaned an area of 300 meters.
Seven waterways were cleaned – totalling a distance of approximately 5 km. 
There were twenty seven “township” clean-ups, with Kirkland in Natures Valley seeing the largest participation. In total, these volunteers covered approximately 54 kilometres.
A total of 154 non-audited, informal clean-ups took place along the Cape Provinces’ coastline, covering a distance of approximately 35 km. 
Close to 20 tons of litter was removed from the beaches on this Saturday alone. 
Thankfully, not as much PPE equipment was found on the beaches as was expected. Some of the stranger items that were removed included an outboard engine, fire extinguisher, computer and mobile phones from the underwater clean-ups. On the land-based beach clean-ups, volunteers removed a portable toilet (with lots of barnacles growing on it), a windsurfer kite and even a lawnmower!
Feedback received from some of the coordinators on the day:
“Our event was a huge success. We collected 1.1 ton waste!!” Danielle Cronje. Garden Cities NPC
“We really had an awesome turnout. We are already planning bigger and better for next year…” Janine Pereira, Dana Bay Conservancy’
“Thanks for allowing us to take part in this initiative!”  Heston McCabe, Socio Economic Transformation Intern, Addo Elephant National Park 
“We had a good turnout in Rooiels on Saturday for the beach clean-up, we estimate around 50 people. We cleaned from the estuary all the way around the point and collected a huge amount of trash around 30-40 full bags so I think we can say it was a success!” John Charalambous
“We had a very successful beach clean-up in Pringle Bay. People started turned up early already to help and filled 23 bags between them. We collected around 31000 items.” Milly Jones, Pringle Bay
“This was our 10th year to participate in the ICC. We covered the area between Maitlands and Van Stadens and filled about 85 bags and total weight of about 3 tons.” Ann van der Berg, Four Wheel Drive Club of SA, PE
“We could definitely not do it without the support of Plastics|SA. 90% of the volunteers who attended asked when the next one is being planned for. We might be turning this into a monthly thing”. Elzette Krynauw, Spatial Planning & Environment Directorate