TRAVERSE CITY (AP) – Thousands of volunteers are fanning out along Great Lakes beaches Saturday for an annual trash pickup.

An environmental group called the Alliance for the Great Lakes sponsors the Adopt-a-Beach program every September, as summer tourist season winds down.

Teams target beaches and shorelines along all five of the lakes.

It’s part of a larger initiative called the International Coastal Cleanup, which draws millions of participants worldwide.

Last year more than 6,900 people collected 16,079 pounds of litter at about 250 sites around the Great Lakes.

Much of the trash is typically plastics, such as shopping bags, drinking straws and bottles. Scientists have discovered that millions of tiny plastic bits are adrift in the lakes.

The cleanups produce data on pollution sources that is shared with researchers and beach managers.

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