Waverley Council is helping staff and the community map dangerous litter and marine debris at our beaches and waterways.
It recently invited local environmental volunteers to a training day run by Ausmap on how to sample and anaylse microplastic pollution.
Ausmap is an award winning project led by The Total Environment Centre and Macquarie University to investigate microplastic pollution in Australian aquatic environments and is lead by leading marine debris and litter researcher, Dr Scott Wilson.
Microplastics are extremely small pieces of plastic debris, generally defined as 5mm or smaller in diameter, resulting from the breakdown of industrial waste and common consumer products such as plastic bottle tops, cigarette butts and textile fibres.
Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos, said fish and birds can ingest microplastics with devastating impacts on marine life.
“The variety of microplastics that volunteers managed to find at Bondi Beach in just a short amount of time was a real eye opener and a sobering reminder of the need to limit single-use plastics and dispose of litter correctly at all times,” Mayor Masselos said.
“Thankfully, through Council’s various litter reduction initiatives and engagement with local businesses around reducing single use plastic packaging, we have seen a decrease in litter at Bondi Beach during the past 12 years, and this is very promising.
“These initiatives include the installation of Enviropoles around Bondi Beach to reduce cigarette butt pollution and this has been supported by NSW EPA funding and the Don’t be Tosser state-wide campaign.
Microplastics sampling at Bondi Beach. Picture: Waverley Council
“Our mircroplastics training day will help Council officers and our community environmental champions follow Ausmap’s standard assessment method to capture data on microplastic pollution and to share these results on a searchable and interactive map that allows our community to see where microplastics are found around Australia.
Boomerang Bags, The Wilderness Society, Plastic Free Bronte, and Seaside Scavenge were among the groups that attended the training day funded by Council through a NSW Environment Protection Authority, Waste Less Recycle More initiative, funded by the waste levy.
Council’s annual litter audits show that the litter at Bondi Beach has reduced to 10 items per 48 square metres down from 27 items per 48 square metres in 2007.
“Waverley Council welcomes thousands of our visitors a day to our area and rubbish that isn’t disposed of correctly can end up in our ocean and other waterways via stormwater run-off and litter in the sand,” Mayor Masselos said.
“This problem isn’t going away, so we need the community to help support the litter reduction efforts of Council by doing the right thing including giving single-use plastics the flick.”