By installing 30 x LittaTrap™'s a total of 248.84kg of litter and debris was prevented from entering the Atlantic Ocean from the City of St Johns.

Public Works


City of St Johns

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Macro-plastic Accumulation and Spatial Variability: A Case Study in the City of St John's, Canada

The Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program (NAACAP), in conjunction with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), sought to understand the spatial and seasonal variability of macro-plastics better. Building upon previous waste diversion and reduction initiatives, NAACAP approached macro-plastic accumulation using a characterisation and quantification analysis method for trash caught in a LittaTrap™ at selected sites.  

The investigative study was carried out over six months in St John, NL, where all storm drains flow directly into the sea.


Monitoring sites were selected at 38 locations throughout Downtown St John's. LittaTrap™ were installed in 30 of the 38 selected sites in May 2021. Eight of the selected sites were unsuitable for an installation where construction was blocking access, for example. Audits were carried out once a month over a six-month period. Intermittent inaccessibility occurred throughout the study for reasons such as parked cars or stuck drain covers.  


By count, cigarette butts were the most significant contributor to macro-plastics entering the ocean via storm drains in the study area, Downtown St John's. Cigarette butts comprised almost 75% of litter that was counted and characterised during the June and July Audits.  A total of 4,135 cigarette butts were collected from 20 LittaTraps™ for those two months. The total litter count for June and July was 5,622. Soft plastics made up almost 10%, food wrappers and 'other' made up between 5% and 7%, hard plastics and paper made up approximately 2.5% each


Business types significantly affected the amount and type of litter entering storm drains in the study area, Downtown St Johns providing some evidence and reasoning for spatial variability of macro-plastic accumulation. With the emphasis on cigarette butts, LittaTrap™ sites near pubs, nightclubs, taxi stands, and food places appeared to be the most significant macro-plastic contributors compared to LittaTrap™ areas near accommodation or retail businesses.

A total of 248.84kg of litter debris did not enter the ocean from May to November 2021 as a result of this study. This result shows that LittaTrap™ is an effective at-source treatment in preventing macro-plastic accumulation in our oceans. The city of St John's is looking to employ long-term use of LittaTrap™ as a result of the study and have recommended it to municipal regulatory bodies.

This summary was written from the report from the Northeast Avalon ACAP (Atlantic Coastal Action Program). Please see the full report HERE.