By CBSLA Staff

SAN CLEMENTE (CBSLA) — Single-use masks and gloves have become a significant source of beach pollution in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Surfrider Foundation’s Beach Cleanup annual report.

From June to December of last year, more than 2,270 single-use masks and gloves were removed from beaches and waterways during the San Clemente-based foundation’s cleanup program. Nearly 90% of all items removed from U.S. beaches are plastic, according to the report.

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“Plastic pollution is a global crisis,” Jennifer Hart, the foundation’s plastic pollution coordinator, said.

The pandemic forced the group to modify its beach cleanup program, switching from large-scale events to solo cleanups and allowing individuals to log their own cleanup data in the foundation’s database.

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However, the changes actually increased the foundation’s efforts with 927 cleanups held in 2020. Coverage increased by nearly 55% and more than 80,000 pounds of trash were removed form the nation’s beaches and waterways, according to the report.

“Beach cleanups have always been an instrumental tool for our network to analyze the most common types of items that pollute our beaches so we can work to help pass laws that reduce these items at the source,” Rachael Coccia, the Surfrider Foundation’s plastic pollution manager, said.

The full report can be found on the foundation’s website.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)