Thousand folds increase in ocean cleanup volunteers reflects Chinese environmental protection awareness
Published: Oct 07, 2021 04:04 PM
Photo: Rendu Ocean website

Rendu Ocean is the first NGO focusing on cleaning up Chinese oceans, especially the coastlines conservation activities across the country.  Photo: Rendu Ocean website

As a volunteering army was growing from a dozen-people group to nearly a 100,000 strong group, Liu Yonglong, founder of China's first ocean cleanup nongovernmental organization (NGO) is relieved to see the public's enormous interest in environmental protection.

Rendu Ocean is the first NGO focusing on cleaning up Chinese oceans, especially the coastlines conservation activities across the country. Founded in 2007 by Liu, the total registered volunteers have reached a number of over 90,000 with 2,179 beach cleaning activities across the country being held for the past 15 years.

"I'm happy to see our team has been growing bigger and bigger. There has been a huge step forward in citizens' awareness' in protecting our oceans," Liu, who has spent years investing in raising people's awareness and mobilizing volunteers, told the Global Times.

Among all the classifications of the costal pollution, the plastic products have reached nearly 90 percent, said a report monitoring types of pollution along China's costalline published in 2020.

To tackle the huge amount of the non-degradable plastics, the organization has chosen to cooperate with the local recycling sites to make best use of the plastics recovered from along the country's coastline.

For example, as early as July, the coastal areas such as places in East China's Jiangsu Province and Shanghai suffered from debris washed by rising water level caused by Typhoon In-Fa.

In-Fa brought tons of garbage onshore alongside the two-kilometer-long costal shore at a park in Shanghai. Dozens of volunteers formed a team combing the area removing a total of 15 tons of garbage.

"We filled 1,500 full nylon bags with the garbage," recalled Liu, "then we classified them and sent the plastic ones such as bottles and such to the city's recycling center."

"I'd like to see that more people in our country begin to consider the ocean protection a big thing."

There is more in the campaign that simply addresses the pollution. Volunteers have made many beaches of the country into  cleaner and enjoyable locations, creating new opportunities for tourism tovisit, for example in East China's Fujian Province. 

Furthermore, the country  has seen  more governmental and private actors involved in coastal protection and conservation. "When I set up this organization in 2007, there are few companion organizations doing the cleaning job like what we do," said Liu.

And in 2021, there are a total of 54 partners including government agencies and the private sector seeking out Rendu in the environmental protection space.

Liu believed ocean protection is a long-term challenging issue as most of the agencies do around the world is coastal cleaning, whereas 70 percent of ocean garbage is located in deep water or on the ocean bed.

"It's a global issue that concerns all humans, as many scientific data shows the ocean garbage, especially the plastic ones have already cast a lethal impact on the corals and the mangroves around the globe."
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