Beach cleanliness is a hallmark of Blue Flag sites. Criterion 15 highlights sites need to follow local, regional, or national legislation on waste management while taking careful consideration of the flora and fauna in and around the site. Criterion 17 outlines the importance of adequate waste disposal containers. There is no formula for the correct number of bins. As an operator you know your beach best–when the most visitors arrive during the day, which events or holidays produce the most trash, etc. Use your knowledge to determine the best number for your site and consider: 

  • Bin Size/Capacity
  • Type and Source of Litter
  • Volume of Traffic
  • Local Environment (Does your site have high wind, tides, or animals?)
  • Are the bins and cleaning procedures environmentally friendly? 
  • Are the bins accessible for everyone? 

Finally, criterion 18 focuses on offering recycling at the beach. These facilities should accommodate collection and separation of as many types of materials as possible but at minimum 3 types. Collection of recyclables can be commingled or separate. 


Whether you have an established recycling program at your site or are just starting one. There are a variety of research, best practices, programs, funding, and frameworks to help you and your community navigate waste and recycling management. 


  • Workshop Slides
  • Workshop Recording
  • For assistance setting up meeting with program partners please contact staff


The Trash Free Waters program is EPA’s effort to reduce pollution in rivers, lakes, estuaries, and oceans. Many of their programs and projects attempt to address pollution before it reaches the ocean to limit overlap with NOAAs Marine Debris program. You can find resources for education, best management practices, research and case studies, past webinars, and what to do about trash in your waterways. 

The Marine Debris Program was authorized in 2006 with a mission to investigate and prevent adverse impacts from marine debris on global oceans and coasts. They have many publications including fact sheets on several types and sources of debris and activity resources for educators.