Report released about most common beach pollutants

Plastics are the most common type of debris found littering San Diego County beaches, according to a report released Wednesday by two environmental groups.

The more than 3,600 volunteers who took part last year in monthly cleanups sponsored by San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation removed 93,968 pieces of plastic from area beaches.

“This marine debris not only trashes our beautiful beaches but has a negative impact on the Pacific Ocean’’ the report states.

Of the 2 1/2 tons of trash removed from San Diego County beaches in 2008, nearly 80 percent of the items were made of plastic, according to the environmental groups.

The top culprits were cigarette butts, Styrofoam, food wrappers, plastic bottles and caps, bags and take-out items such as utensils, lids, straws and cups.

It was the second consecutive year that plastics were the primary source of trash on San Diego County beaches.

According to Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation, plastics do not break down through the natural degradation process and can stay in the marine environment for a long time, where they are commonly mistaken for food by sea creatures.