Every year, millions of tonnes of litter end up in Europe's streets, oceans, beaches, forests and natural areas. And every year millions of Europeans get out in their neighborhoods to clean up in voluntary actions. "Let's Clean up Europe" is an initiative that aims to encourage more such actions, to raise awareness about the scale of the litter and waste problems, and to encourage changes in behaviour. The event is being coordinated by the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR).

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Civic clean up movements are growing across Europe and we want to make them feel part of a European event. We have put together a network of national contact points in 21 countries to let people know what is going on in their neighbourhood, and what they can do to help. It's a hands-on initiative, so let's get our boots and gloves on. We all want to live in clean neighbourhoods, so together Let's Clean Up Europe."

A number of clean-up campaigns have been organised in Europe in recent years to tackle the litter problem.Let’s Clean Up Europe!” will bring together these initiatives in a Europe-wide clean-up event to take place on the same day all over the continent, reaching as many citizens as possible.

‘Let’s Clean Up Europe!’ is a truly bottom-up event that aims to inform and mobilise the public into cleaning up their environment for themselves. Experience shows that people are often surprised at how much waste is being generated and dumped in their neighbourhood. And litter can be valuable. Paper, glass, metals, and plastic can all be used again or recycled if collected. This reduces environmental impact, creates economic opportunities and jobs, by helping to push Europe towards a more circular economy. 

The Commission is promoting the event, but the clean-ups are truly independent, local and citizen-led. In many cases local authorities, NGOs businesses and schools will be getting involved or coordinating actions. Events are taking place in 15 EU Member States, as well as in Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey. To find a local action in your Member State, see the website of the national organizer in your Member State.


"Let's Clean up Europe" is a LIFE project coordinated by the Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and sustainable Resource management, the organisation that is also responsible for the European Week for Waste Reduction. A set of communication tools has been developed by the organisers, and will be made available for all participants via the coordinators.

In 2012, Let’s Do It! World, based in Estonia, coordinated a World Clean-up 2012 action, which mobilized 7 million volunteers in 84 one-day clean-up actions in Asia, Africa, North America, South America and Europe. Similar activities followed in 2013. The initiatives are primarily based on networking volunteers through social networks, and also include fund raising and sponsorships.

Surfrider Foundation Europe (http://www.surfrider.eu/en/presentation/our-story.html) mobilises 1500 volunteers, 10000 members, about 40 local chapters, and more than 40 000 supporters. Its beach clean-ups are now complemented by actions on lakes and rivers. Surfrider started in 1984 in Malibu, California, where surfers aimed to protect their favourite surf spots from local pollution. It has been active in Europe since 1990.The European Commission believes that public awareness and changing attitudes to waste are important in delivering the objectives of European waste legislation. Waste prevention and waste management are focus areas for the Commission in 2014, and it will review waste recycling and landfill targets this summer as part of a wider circular economy package.

For more information:

Let's Clean Up Europe website:


Factsheet on the event:


The European Environment Agency has also launched a marine litter app that can be downloaded from Google Play: see http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/coast_sea/marine-litterwatch

For more information on EU waste legislation, see:



"Let's Clean Up Europe" on 10 May