Self-guided module

Please read through all steps before planning and conducting your Deep Dive beach litter analysis.

Before your Deep Dive


    Acquire marine litter for your Deep Dive

    Acquire marine litter for your Deep Dive Ten cubic meters of litter will generally give a good sample and take three days for two people to analyse. You have three main ways to obtain the litter for the analysis.

    The recommended ways to obtain litter for the analysis are:

    1.Collect the litter yourself
    By collecting the litter yourself, you can better control where it comes from and the cleanliness of the beach after the clean-up. Take measures to limit damage to the environment. Avoid cleaning at times of the year when species are particularly vulnerable, for example hatching periods. Evaluate the damage to habitat of removing litter in cases where the litter is integrated in the environment. For example, if a fishing net is entangled in vulnerable vegetation, it might be best to leave it there.

    2.Team up with beach cleaners
    Cooperating with beach cleaners reduces the cost of collection and can give you more litter for analysis. If you communicate effectively with the beach cleaners, you can secure good information about the litter and the site it came from.

    3.Collaborate with waste management companies that receive beach litter.
    Accessing the litter from waste management facilities or other collection points can be cost-effective and provide large amounts of litter for analysis for a larger region, but this gives you little control over the exact location and the cleanliness after clean-up.

    The amount of litter you need for analysis depends on how much time you have available and whether you are going to do a full Deep Dive analysis or focus just on certain types of items (more on this in Deep Dive Step 3). In general, it is better to have too much rather than too little litter . The composition of the litter may also determine the time it takes to conduct the analysis. For example, if there are many identifiable containers in the sample, the analysis may take more time as you will need to investigate each item and register a number of parameters for each one.

    Ensure that your litter has time to dry out before your Deep Dive analysis.


    Gather information on your beach location

    You will need some key information about the collection area: the exact location (coordinates), the length of beach cleaned, whether it has been cleaned previously, and how well it has been cleaned.

    You may get this information from the regular beach cleaners and/or organisations doing or coordinating beach cleaning. You could also evaluate this based on the litter found: if there is a lot of old, degraded litter, it indicates that it has not been cleaned before.


    Select a site for conducting your Deep Dive

    We recommend you conduct the analysis indoors. Choose a site with at least 50m2 of floor space. An internet connection will allow you to directly submit your data to the Deep Dive Data Portal.

    Analysis can be conducted outdoors, but bad weather can make it difficult. Wind is a risk factor as it may blow litter items away, while rain can make weight measurements inaccurate. The analysis can take a few days, so make sure your site will not be disturbed while you are away or overnight.


    Invite your team

    The team can vary from 2-3 people to large groups of 20. You should also decide whether to invite relevant stakeholders to join your analysis to gain more insights of the Deep Dive items.

    The data collected from a stakeholder session will be qualitative, in contrast to the quantitative data collected through the main Deep Dive analysis. With more people, it is good to divide the group into smaller teams with a responsibility for different litter categories.


    Consider necessary health and safety measures

    Make yourself familiar with the health and safety standards and routines relevant to you, such as those of your institution or university. Be aware that some beach litter items can pose hazards

    Hazardous items include needles, syringes, glass, medical waste, explosives, items containing chemicals, and heavy items. If you are unsure whether it is safe to handle an item, leave it where it is and, if appropriate, contact local authorities (for example, if you suspect that an item is explosive or contains dangerous chemicals).

    The Deep Dive project leader is responsible for risk assessment, providing adequate safety instructions to the participants, and having a first aid kit available during the Deep Dive


    Inform all participants about safety measures

    Make sure that all participants understand the type of work that will be conducted and the potential risk factors. They should consider any potentially relevant health issues and ensure that the participants have appropriate insurance.

    Each participant will need to wear gloves and appropriate clothing for handling waste (closed shoes, protective workwear appropriate for the temperature you will be operating at). Dust masks are recommended.


    Plan for safe disposal of waste after your Deep Dive

    Contact local waste management authorities for instructions. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Gather needed tools and other items at your Deep Dive site


    You should have the following items for the Deep Dive:

    Five tarpaulins for each weight category (1.5m x 1.8 m) and/or large plastic bags
    Ziploc bags
    Hand-held scale
    Duct tape
    Knife with serrated edges for cutting rope, for example
    Markers or pens
    Post-it notes
    Camera (smartphone camera is sufficient)
    First-aid kit
    Laptop or tablet if you plan to submit the data to the Deep Dive data portal during analysis
    Registration forms and clipboards if you plan to input data to Deep Dive data portal later
    Registration forms and clipboards if you plan to input data to Deep Dive data portal later

During your beach litter analysis


    Prepare the sorting area

    Lay tarpaulins, plastic bags, and/or boxes out on the floor or on tables and label each with a weight category.

    You can also use the dropdown menu of Form 2 or Form 5 in the Data Submission section of the Deep Dive Data Portal to check which items belong to which category. The weight categories are the following:

    Food: food and drink related items
    Bags: any type of bags (non-food)
    Sanitary: items related to sanitary or medical purposes
    Smoking: smoking/snuff related items
    Domestic: items related to domestic/personal use
    Fishery: fisheries related items (not nets or ropes)
    Net: fisheries netting materials (for example trawl nets, not gill nets)
    Rope cut off
    Agriculture: agricultural items
    Industry: items related to industrial uses
    Oil and chemical containers
    Other pieces


    Sort the litter items

    Place the litter items on their respective labelled areas prepared in Step 1. ---------------------------------------------------------------

    Figure 1 Items belonging to the category "Cleaner products" displayed with post-it notes identifying nationality of items (Photo: WJ Strietman)

    Data registration

    Log in to the Deep Dive at Data Portal. There are five predefined data registration entry forms in the Data Portal, and we recommend you read through the information about each of them below before you start.

    You may choose to only use some of the forms for your data submission depending on time available and the focus of your project. If you have no access to internet during your Deep Dive, you can use our Excel registration form that follows the same structure as the Data Portal and submit the data afterwards.

    Note that some of the data requires in-depth knowledge of fisheries or other sectors. You will find additional photos and videos for your assistance in the Data Portal when registering the data. You can also invite relevant experts to contribute to your Deep Dive.

    FORM 1 Beach info
    This is the only mandatory step to provide detailed information about the cleaning action and location during which the Deep Dive litter is collected.

    FORM 2 Container Deep Dive
    You will determine a distinct type and nationality of containers. The age of the items will also be recorded or estimated. The container deep dive category is developed because many containers carry information that can link the items to a specific source due to the type of item, age or nationality (see for example Ryan et al 2019 ). The age of the item, for example, is useful to determine if poor waste management is an on-going practice. Oil and chemical containers found in Arctic Norway have been linked to maritime industries, and the nationality of household containers indicate that they origin from vessels operating in the region (Falk-Andersson and Strietman 2019) . Note, however, that information on the nationality of items should be interpreted with caution as a product can be bought in one country and discarded in another (Veiga et al. 2016).

    FORM 3 Net Deep Dive
    The type of fishing net and likelihood of them being discarded will be determined. Gillnets are separated out from other types of nets, and you will analyse individual pieces of nets to identify if they are cut-offs after repairs or nets that have been damaged.

    Deep dives at Svalbard have been able to identify that the majority of nets found are cut-offs discarded after trawl repairs (Falk-Andersson and Strietman 2019) . You may also record the specific fishery the nets originate from. Only do this if you have this information or have the competence to make a correct identification

    FORM 4 Litter context
    Beach litter is analysed based on the context it is found as this can give useful information on the likely origin of litter items (Tudor and Williams 2004).

    FORM 5 Litter weight
    Counting and weighting all the items individually is time consuming, thus weight will be registered according to the generalized “weight categories”. Examples of weight categories are “domestic”, “fishery” and “food”. If you have followed Step 1 and 2, you have sorted the litter into their respective weight categories in the beginning of the Deep Dive.

    Established beach litter protocols only document the number of items of the different litter categories. Thus, a large piece of a fishing net and a small water bottle have the same weighting. Decision makers may be interested in knowing the relative weight different sources of litter make up in order to prioritise management measures

After your Deep Dive

  • Final STEP

    Waste Dispose

    Dispose of the waste safely after completion of the Deep Dive according to instructions from your local waste management authorities.