March 1 marks Clean Up Australia Day, Australia’s largest community-based environmental event. According to Clean Up Australia, Australians produce 540kg of waste per person, each year. That equates to more than 10kg for every single person, every week. This waste is usually made of plastic and will often end up in the stomachs of birds or sea life, eventually killing them.
Over the past 30 years, 17.7 million Aussies have donated 35 million hours to remove more than 365,000 ute loads of rubbish from our natural environment for Clean Up Australia Day – an incredible achievement!
To mark the occasion, we are reflecting on our Annual Clean Up Program, which has been operating in South East Queensland for more than sixteen years. The Program works to remove debris from our waterways and has seen promising results in the region.
Marine debris is one of the most serious threats facing oceans and coastal areas worldwide and affects more than 800 animal species. Between 2018 and 2019, 99,948 items of litter were collected from waterways by the Healthy Land and Water Clean Up Program.
For the first time in the history of the Clean Up Program, food wraps represent the greatest percentage of items collected (19%), with plastic bottles the second most common item collected (17%) closely followed by plastic pieces (15%).
Some good news
The total amount of litter collected through the Clean Up behaviour change programs, community education initiatives and policy interventions are raising awareness and driving action to reduce the amount of litter that enters our waterways.
Where to from here?
Marine litter is part of the broader problem of waste management, which is becoming a major environmental and economic concern in many countries, including Australia. Healthy Land and Water is pleased to announce an ongoing commitment by the Australian Government to continue to fund the Clean Up Program for an additional 3 years. This commitment enables Healthy Land and Water to continue removing litter and mitigate the impacts of pollution on South East Queensland’s waterways and wildlife.
Click here to download the full 2018/2019 Annual Clean Up Program Report.