River Cleanup frees idyllic Antwerp Scheldt from waste

May 2, 2022

Antwerp, April 25, 2022 – Just after World Earth Day, more than 110 volunteers from the Belgian NGO River Cleanup rolled up their sleeves for a weekend to make one of the most beautiful places in Antwerp, the Scheldt bend, completely waste-free. They plodded through the mud to collect more than 2600 kg of waste during the first High Impact Cleanup of the year. Step by step and cleanup by cleanup, River Cleanup's helping hands make the world a more beautiful, waste-free place.


The Scheldt bend is one of the most idyllic spots in Antwerp and a popular piece of nature with young people, but is also one of the most polluted places in Antwerp. Usually the place is full of washed up river waste, until this weekend. Then the first High Impact Cleanup of the year took place. This cleanup is different from the regular cleanups River Cleanup is known for. With this campaign, River Cleanup wants to create awareness for the plastic and litter problem, while a large group of volunteers plod deep through the mud with shovels between the reeds. Mainly large dirt such as car tires, old iron, bicycles, etc. is picked up.


Collected waste this weekend:

  • Plastic: 590.8 kg
  • Glass: 146.10 kg
  • Rest: 1093.80 kg
  • Iron: 800 kg

Total: 2630.70 kg

On average, River Cleanup collects about 3 kg of waste per person during a campaign. In this cleanup an average of about 21.6 kg was collected.

In two days we collected more than 2600 kg of waste. In addition to large pieces of waste, we also found millions of plastic granules on the bank. Hallucinating to find this in one of the most beautiful places in Antwerp," says Hanne Collette, who was responsible for this action at River Cleanup.


During this Hotspot Cleanup, River Cleanup went big with, among other things, a suction truck that makes it possible to clean up small plastic spheres or microplastics that serve as raw materials for plastic products. An important task, if you know that every week no less than 5 grams of microplastics end up in our body through our diet.


This cleanup was not easy: the sludge at the bend absorbs all kinds of waste, which makes the cleanup campaign a soggy job. Moreover, the plastic, iron and coarse dirt are up to one and a half meters deep. As is customary, the Belgian non-profit organization made clearing accessible to all volunteers and the organization provided the helpers with the necessary material.


The campaign had a major impact on the view and the beautiful nature around the Scheldt bend. The hard plastic that was collected is recycled by TerraCycle. The campaign was made possible with the support of Deutsche Ban Belgium, Stormkop and the Flemish Waterway.


To measure the impact of this cleanup, River Cleanup will repeat the cleanup action at the Scheldt bend again on World Cleanup Day (17 September 2022).