Coca-Cola Bangladesh and Kewkradong Bangladesh, the country coordinator of Ocean Conservancy, have recently conducted the 10th annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) at St Martin's Island.
As part of Coca-Cola's global commitment to create a "World Without Waste" by 2030, Coca-Cola has been supporting coastal cleanup voluntary initiative since 2011 in Bangladesh.
The Coca-Cola Company is one of Ocean Conservancy's longest standing partners, supporting its work since 1995. Through this partnership, Coca-Cola is working towards clean and pollution free oceans across the globe, said a press release.
Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, some 520 volunteers from different professions came forward to collect more than 870-kilogram of marine debris this year.
Thanks to the initiative, more than 4,500 people have volunteered and collected over 12,000 kilograms of marine debris in the last 10 years.
All Covid-19 protective and safety procedures were followed, such as Covid-19 test for all, face masks, hand gloves, sanitizers, and maintaining proper social distance.
Volunteers from different walks of life including students, teachers and local representatives from across the country, participated in collecting and segregation of waste and interacted with and sensitized the beachgoers on the importance of marine conservation.
Muntasir Mamum, country coordinator of Kewkradong Bangladesh, said Kewkradong as well as the International Coastal Cleanup values its partnership with Coca-Cola.
"We are proud of our network of passionate and devoted coordinators who have been coming to cleanup St Martin's island for 10 years now," he added.
The partnership engages people from across the country to do their part for the health and resiliency of oceans and waterways and creates a dialogue to understand the causes of marine debris and raise awareness on the harmful effects of marine littering. With the slogan 'Pick it up, clean it up, sea change', the day long activity was organized in sync with 35th annual International Coastal Cleanup.
Ajay Bathija, managing director of Coca-Cola Bangladesh, acknowledged the contribution of Kewkradong in making the beach free of plastic debris.
"We admire the tireless efforts of Kewkradong in keeping the beaches free of plastic debris. Clearing beaches of unwanted litter not only benefits the marine environment but will hopefully inspire others across the country to do the same," he said, adding that his organization participated in the Ocean Clean as part of efforts to help create a world without waste.
In his speech, Alhajj Nur Ahammad, chairman of St Martin Union Parishad, said the beach cleaning campaign is playing an effective role to save the bio-diversity and natural beauty of our island by raising awareness among local residents and tourists.
"We are thankful to Kewkradong and Coca-Cola for organising such an amazing and impactful program," he added.
As a part of the day long activity, a view exchange meeting was arranged with the local government representatives including the local Union Parishad Chairman and UP members, to discuss the importance of protecting the ecological balance of the environment and ways to keep the coastal areas clean and pollution-free more effectively.
International Coastal Cleanup is the world's largest volunteer effort, attracting thousands of participants to collect millions of pounds of waste and debris from beaches, lakes and waterways.
The focus was to collect non-disposal wastes such as cigarette filters, chips packet etc. After collecting the waste, these were disposed at a specified location and sorted out all patterns of waste items collected during the event.
All the information gathered through this initiative has been uploaded to Ocean Conservancy's global ocean trash database.
Volunteers who have joined this cleanup initiative at St Martin's are expected to play a key role in spreading the message of how to reduce pollution among peers and other networks upon their return.