More than 60 river cleanups in 32 countries on World Cleanup Day

October 17, 2023

Worldwide and local events

World Cleanup Day mobilizes millions of volunteers, governments, and organizations to tackle the global litter problem and work together to create a sustainable environment. This citizens’ movement has now clocked up its ninth edition, which took place on Saturday, 16 September.


This year River Cleanup once again contributed to this worldwide movement with 66 events in no less than 32 countries and almost 5,000 participants, ranging from Germany to Bolivia and Ghana. In Belgium, the organization set up actions in three cities: Antwerp, Ghent, and Liège.

In Antwerp, an event was organised at Waagnatie. In Ghent a cleanup took place at Houtdok, both on the banks of the river and from the water itself with about twenty small boats. Moreover, none other than Koen Wauters turned up to lend a helping hand. In Liège, cleanup activities were staged along the rivers Meuse and Ourthe in Parc de la Boverie.


Those who were interested in setting up local events were also greatly encouraged to do so. For example, locals rolled up their sleeves in Dendermonde, Lokeren, and Berchem organizing spontaneous civic actions.

More than just cleanups

Every year, more than 11 billion kilos of plastic reach our seas and oceans, and this amount is steadily increasing, with far-reaching consequences for humans and animals. Much of this waste arrives there via our rivers. Besides cleaning up, it is important to tackle the problem at the source and avoid using disposable plastic whenever possible.

Thomas de Groote, CEO and founder of River Cleanup: “It is particularly encouraging to see so many committed individuals joining forces worldwide during World Cleanup Day to create a cleaner environment. Recent research* showed that 1 in 3 Belgians (even 1 in 2 among young people) indicate that there is nothing they themselves can do to combat plastic pollution. This is a missed opportunity. Each piece of plastic that is not used is a piece of plastic that can never end up in our natural environment or in our rivers. We hope everyone will become aware of the problem and become part of the solution with our cleanups."

World Cleanup Day statistics

Together, 427 participants in Belgium cleared 1020 kg of litter.

  • Ghent: 180 helping hands or River Warriors via River Cleanup, 430 kg of litter collected
  • Antwerp: 134 volunteers or River Warriors348 kg of litter collected
  • Liège: 113 River Warriors, 242 kg of litter collected