Historical moment: 1.000.000kg river waste collected

June 6, 2021

Brussels, June 6, 2021 - Every year, around 8 billion kilograms of waste end up in our seas and oceans. 80% of that waste is brought there by rivers. To change this, River Cleanup organized River Cleanup World on Sunday, June 6, 2021. With countless small-scale, local initiatives worldwide, River Cleanup aims to prove that we all can make a difference. Over 700 actions took place in 45 countries along 160 rivers, making this second edition a huge success.



1 000 000 kg of river waste


Thomas de Groote, the founder of River Cleanup, realized a few years ago that more than 8 billion kilograms of plastic waste end up in our seas and oceans every year. He decided to tackle the problem closer to its source by cleaning up the trash before it reaches the sea, in other words, in and around rivers. River Cleanup aims to make people, organizations, and governments aware of this problem and, above all, to encourage them to take action and change.


The international flagship event of River Cleanup World was organized this year in Douala (Cameroun) together with the Belgian organisation NAMé Recycling. Timothy de Meester, Belgian Consul in Cameroun, collected the 1 000 000th kg of waste along the Wouri river, one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

Focus on River Plastics


By 2030 River Cleanup wants to stop 8 billion kg from reaching our oceans. This year the non-profit aims to collect and recycle 1 000 000 kilograms of river plastics, to be tripled annually. The focus is on 4 of the most polluted rivers in the World in Indonesia, Cameroon, Ghana and Albania. So far, River Cleanup has collected 400.000 kg of river plastics and is on its track to reach its ambitious target


“Plastic stays 500 to 1000 years in nature, where it slowly breaks down to microplastics and enters our food chain. That’s why we start this year with collecting our first 1 million kg of river plastics!” says Thomas de Groote, founder of River Cleanup.

Smart technology


Besides making people aware of the problem, River Cleanup deploys and develops smart technologies to stop the plastic from flowing into the oceans. The organization successfully deployed several systems in Germany, Indonesia, and Belgium. On River Cleanup World, a River Trawl was tested together with partner organization Waste Free Oceans and Environment and Food Foundation.



Education & Prevention


To inform and inspire young children, River Cleanup launched a program (English, French, Dutch) aimed at schools to inform and inspire children about the impact of their consumption and behavior on our oceans, our environment, and our health.


By installing eco bins, River Cleanup and its partners aim to prevent plastic from ending up in the environment. The ecobin is a collector deployed at strategic places in local villages and is regularly emptied! During River Cleanup World the ecobins were officially inaugurated in Duoala, Cameroon.


Partner organisations:

NAMé Recycling, Human Health Institute, RhineCleanUp, Green Policy Instutite, and many others.



Save the date


Did we trigger your inner River Warrior and do you want to join the next action? Mark down September 18th for World Cleanup Day and keep an eye on river-cleanup.org.


Foto’s & video’s