Bottle Cap Report - Stichting De Noordzee

Consumers leave behind 80% of the plastic bottle caps found on the beach


This is the conclusion of the first bottle cap report of the North Sea Foundation. Plastic caps are among the top five most deadly ocean trash items. Marine mammals, birds and fish see plastic bottle caps as food, which can lead to ingestion and potentially fatal consequences. Over 10.000 caps were analysed one by one. This is the first time pollution from plastic bottle caps has been researched this thoroughly. This research is important for successfully addressing this pollution at its source. 

“Plastic caps are among the top five most commonly found items of litter on beaches worldwide. We hope that this report encourages industry, governments and citizens to help resolve and reduce plastic cap pollution so that we can maintain a clean, healthy ocean and a well-functioning ecosystem, in our beautiful North Sea and other oceans worldwide”.

– Floris van Hest, director of the North Sea Foundation

In the summer of 2016, The North Sea Foundation and more than 2,000 volunteers picked up as many bottle caps as they could find along the entire Dutch North Sea coast. These bottle caps were analysed one by one. 

These are the most important findings of that analysis:

1. 10,004 bottle caps were collected from the Dutch North Sea coastline during the 2016 Boskalis Beach Cleanup Tour

2. more than 80% came from consumer drinks and food packaging 

3. the most common bottle cap colours that were found were blue and white

4. 80% of the bottle caps had no brand

5. more than 70% were damaged, ranging from slight to severe damage. This

may indicate that the bottle caps had been floating at sea for a long time

6. the number of bottle caps found on the beach per kilometre numbered between 20 and 128.

The following conclusions on the issue of worldwide bottle cap pollution were drawn from a survey of literature:

7. bottle caps are among the top 5 items found during beach cleaning and beach litter monitoring around the world

8. over the last 30 years, more than 20 million bottle caps and lids were found during beach cleaning activities around the world. Currently, it is unknown how many bottle caps actually enter our oceans and wash up on shore

9. plastic bottle caps are made of hard plastics and degrade very slowly

10. plastic bottle caps are among the top 5 ocean trash items that are deadly for sea life.


Plastic bottle caps do not belong in the sea. The North Sea Foundation advocates

for dealing with bottle caps at the source and for good waste management on

land and at sea. To deal with bottle cap pollution, The North Sea Foundation

suggests the following solutions by sector:

1. government: introduce deposits for disposable plastic (single-use) drink

packages, including the caps

2. industry: develop new types of packaging so that plastic leakage will no

longer be a problem

3. consumers: use as many reusable bottles and caps as possible, and dispose

of waste properly.

This report is made possible by the OAK foundation and the Dutch National Postcode Lottery

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You can download the report here.