The biggest day of action that we ever had

September 21, 2023

On Rhine and 25 other Rivers

Petrus meant well for the environmental friends this year. In bright sunshine, over 50,000 people across the country cleaned up the banks of rivers. According to RhineCleanUp initiator Joachim Umbach, this is the best result in the history of the organization, which was founded in 2018. Christian Stock from the Cologne K.R.A.K.E. confirmed this trend: “This is the fattest day of action we have ever had”. There were long queues when the materials were handed out.


However, the amount of waste collected has probably only increased slightly. According to initial trend reports, it is around 300 tons nationwide; on the rainy day of the campaign in 2022 it was 280 tons. Joachim Umbach sees this as positive: “Perhaps we have finally achieved something with our example.” What was noticeable was that the waste had become smaller. Joachim Umbach: “We may have already fished out the big chunks in the last few years.” However, there were exceptions: Team Anna Hiltrop, the RCU ambassador, found a complete inflatable boat and a ship's toilet in the Düsseldorf Media Harbor. The trend towards small parts was also confirmed on the Moselle. In Trier, 20,000 butts were collected by a group.


There was also support from politicians in many municipalities. In Düsseldorf there were two mayors, Klaudia Zepuntke (on the Rhine) and Josef Hinkel (on the Düssel). It is already a tradition in Mainz that Katrin Eder, Environment Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, lends a hand. She has calculated that garbage disposed of in nature costs 3.3 million euros only in Rhineland-Palatinate: “Carelessly thrown away garbage causes immense damage to nature, to our water and also to household budgets.” Extrapolated to 16 federal states a sum of 100 million euros per year is not unrealistic.


RhineCleanUp is made possible primarily by funding from the German Postcode Lottery, whose employees were represented by a strong team in Düsseldorf.


One more reason for the RhineCleanUp initiative, which is now also active on 25 other rivers, to continue. The date for next year is already set. It is Saturday, September 14th, 2024.