Macroplastics in south carolina waterways

"Since 2016, over 390,000 plastic debris items have been collected and logged throughout the state of South Carolina."

  • Litter-free Digital Journal


South Carolina is no stranger to plastic pollution.

In 2018, South Carolina was named number five on the list of most visibly polluted states by the American State Litter Scorecard. South Carolina has no state-funded litter pickup program or state cleanup crews and relies heavily on volunteers.

Palmetto Pride, South Carolina’s primary anti-litter and beautification organization, has removed 71 million pounds of litter from roads and natural areas throughout the state in a 20-year time span. 

Representatives at SCDHEC have removed over 10,000 pounds of trash from the lower Catawba River since summer 2020.

In the cities of Columbia and Charleston, many local conservation organizations routinely conduct their own litter sweeps in an attempt to reduce macroplastic pollution.

One of these organizations, the Congaree Riverkeeper in Columbia, has removed over 10,000 plastic debris items from local waterways since January of this year.

Similarly, the Charleston Waterkeeper has removed 6,200 plastic pieces since January 2020.

Plastic-Ghetti | Jacob Qualls Photography

In 2015, researchers from College of Charleston found an estimated 7.5 tons of plastic in the Charleston Harbor.

  • Wertz, Hope. Marine debris in Charleston Harbor: Characterizing plastic particles in the field and assessing their effects on juvenile clams (Mercenaria mercenaria). College of Charleston, 2015.

7.5 Tons Of Plastic


2 Average Pick-Up Trucks

Most Common Plastics

An analysis of data from Litter-Free Digital Journal shows the top five most prevalent plastic items in the state of South Carolina to be Styrofoam, plastic bottles, miscellaneous plastics, food wrappers and film, and plastic bags. These are considered consumer plastic items, which can be reduced by targeted actions to the public.

Macroplastics SC
Macroplastics SC

My Work Involved With This Project

Wood Stork
Wood Storks are an endangered species. Found at a park in Sumter, SC
Plastic Pollution
Found at the same park in Sumter
Australian Black Swans
Not native to South Carolina, This was spotted at the same local park in Sumter, South Carolina
Plastic Pollution
On the back side of the same park, there is a natural dam - made my storms, felling trees - and the branches catch everything.

For More Information And To Watch The Documentary Emma DeLoughry Has Created,
Please Visit

Macroplastics In South Carolina Waterways: Connecting The Midlands To The Coast

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