Frequently Asked Questions

Cleanups & volunteering

Does River Cleanup provide cleanup material? 
River Cleanup wants to make organizing a cleanup as easy as possible for you. First, check with your municipality to see if they offer materials you can use. This is the most sustainable solution because it avoids unnecessary logistics and one-time use.

If the municipality cannot offer the material, we will be happy to send you a starter-pack with gloves, bags, t-shirt and other practical material. 

On Cleanups that are organized by River Cleanup, all necessary material will be provided. 


Are participants/organizers insured for accidents during the Cleanups?
All participants registered through our website are insured for small accidents in Europe. If anything happens, please reach out to action@river-cleanup.org. Participants outside of Europe agree organizers are not liable for any damage (material and moral), loss or theft, nor for possible accidents. 

We advise organizers outside of Europe to inform participants they are participating in a cleanup event at their own risk. In some cases, the municipality can provide insurance for volunteers. If you are interested in this, please contact them.


Are there safety guidelines during a Cleanup? 
We advise all organizers to inform participants that they should observe the following guidelines:

  • Wear gloves on both hands
  • Do not pick up sharp or dangerous objects
  • Do not enter the water and do not take the waste out of the river without the necessary gear to do this safely (e.g. wader, net, waterproof gloves,...)
  • Respect the traffic rules
  • Watch children closely.


Why do you use plastic bags during Cleanups?
The recycled plastic bags with the River Cleanup logo are produced in Europe and made from 100% recycled waste. Their design results in 40% less CO2 being emitted during production. Because of their high quality, these bags can be reused.


What happens to the litter after the cleanup? Will it be recycled?
In River Cleanup's centrally organized cleanup events, the collected litter is sorted and recycled to the maximum extent. On all other locations,  it is up to the cleanup organizers to decide how to sort/recycle the litter in consultation with the local municipality. 


What do I do with my litter after a Cleanup? 
Contact your municipality (environmental department) prior to your cleanup. They will advise you on how to handle your waste after the event. 


How will data of the Cleanup be collected and shared after the event?
All organizers will receive a link to update their collected kg of waste or number of bags and the number of participants of their event. They are also asked to upload at least 1 group photo on the cleanup page. 


I would like to help River Cleanup as a volunteer to have more impact. How can I start?
Super! Email us at community@river-cleanup.org, and we'll be in touch soon! Make sure you mention where you're located and what you have in mind to do. 


General activities & technology

What's an EcoBin?
EcoBins are efficient waste collection systems that are placed strategically throughout communities. People can deposit their plastic waste in the EcoBin instead of throwing it in nature. First, we involve local schools and teach students the impact of plastic pollution on people and the planet. Then, we deploy the EcoBin in the schools and provide a practical solution for the collection and recycling of plastics. As a final step, we deploy a second EcoBin in the village around the school so kids teach their parents and neighbors how to use the EcoBin and why it is important to correctly dispose of plastic waste. When the EcoBin is full, the plastic is collected by our team and handed over to a trusted recycler. 


What is an MRF?
An MRF, short for Material Recovery Facility, is a place where collected waste can be sorted, washed, weighed and baled so it can be properly recycled by our trusted operational partners.


About River Cleanup

How can I invite the CEO to speak at my event? 
You can invite our CEO, Thomas de Groote for a keynote by sending an email with the date and location to partner@river-cleanup.org. Please include some information about your event. For example: who is in the audience, what the occasion is, how long it will take, where it is,... We ask a donation in return of the keynote to finance our global mission.


Where can I read the annual report?
You can download a preliminary version of our 2023 annual global report at the bottom of this page.

Where is River Cleanup based?
The River Cleanup headquarters are based in Antwerp, Belgium. We also have dedicated teams operating in Indonesia and Cameroon. 


In how many countries is River Cleanup active?
At the end of 2023, our community reached 100 countries. This means that River Warriors from 100 different countries have organized a Cleanup through our website. Our core program countries are Indonesia, Cameroon and Belgium. 


What are core program countries? 
The Clean River Model is a crucial element in reaching our ambitious goals as this will be shared and scaled to anyone willing to make his or her river plastic free. Currently we are validating the model in 3 countries, we call them our ‘core program countries’. In these countries we have a local team which allows us to test and fine tune the model before scaling it to 100 rivers by 2030 and 1000 rivers by 2050.


Why did you stop your project in Albania? 
At the start of 2024, we discontinued our operations in Albania. This decision was not made lightly and follows an extended period of evaluation and reflection. 

We still support people taking action there as part of our global community.  


Finances, donations & partnerships

How are you financing your organization?
Since the start of River Cleanup, our primary revenue model is fundraising (philanthropy and corporate partnerships). Corporate partnerships are until now our most important source of income, although we are diversifying our revenues with subsidies, grants and
individual giving.


Why is River Cleanup partnering with a supermarket chain and an FMCG player, who are often accused of being part of the problem and not part of the solution?
River Cleanup believes in the power of collaboration to make change happen. A River Cleanup partnership is more than just a financial partnership. We require our partners to actively engage their stakeholders, use their expertise and channels, and to accelerate their internal shift towards more sustainable solutions. All River Cleanup partners are regularly assessed for their past, current, and future involvement and commitment.


Do you have a gift policy?
We take on a massive challenge that requires intense collaboration with various partners for support, expertise and solutions. But, as greenwashing does not clean rivers, we will not associate ourselves with large-scale virgin plastic producers or companies that are involved in unethical activities. While we talk with everyone, we don't accept financial support from companies that clearly act against our vision, mission and values. This is reflected in our gift policy:

- Primary polymer producers
We do not accept financial support from or provide any kind of visibility/brand alignment to primary polymer producers as listed in the Plastic Waste Maker Index. These companies generate revenue by producing virgin plastics on a large scale. That is just not compatible with what we stand for. 

- Non-ethical companies
There are some things we just disagree with as human beings. We therefore also do not accept gifts or sponsoring from businesses that are directly involved in one or more of the following activities: production of nuclear weapons, production of cluster munitions, production of chemical and biological weapons, production of coal or coal-based energy, production of tobacco, serious violations of individuals' rights in situations of war or conflict.


How can I help as an individual?
There are different ways to support us financially as an individual. You can learn about them on our individual actions page. 


Can I get a tax certificate for my donation?
You can only get a tax certificate if you donate via the King Baudouin Foundation and the donation is € 40 or more. Donate online or on the bank account BE10 0000 0000 0404 (King Baudouin Foundation) with structured communication +++ 623/3676/10006 +++ in order to receive a tax certificate at the beginning of next year.


I want to change my address
You can change your address in your personal donorbox account or by sending an email to partner@river-cleanup.org.


I want to cancel my recurring donation
You can cancel your recurring donation in your personal donorbox account or by sending an email to partner@river-cleanup.org (if your donation was not set up through donorbox).


How can I help as a company?
There are many ways to help as a company! You can become a partner or donor, or join us for a Team Cleanup. You can learn more about these options here


How can I help as a school?
You can organize your own Cleanup at school or join the River Cleanup School Program if you are based in Belgium, Cameroon or Indonesia. A more extensive webpage is coming soon. For now, you can email sanne@river-cleanup.org.


Which (privacy) data do you collect?
When organizing or registering for a Cleanup, our website will remember your email address and name. You can read our privacy policy here. When receiving emails, you can always unsubscribe at the bottom of the email. If any problems occur, please reach out to action@river-cleanup.org