Eurobodalla Shire Council is taking a proactive approach to preventing marine debris by installing litter-catching baskets in some stormwater drains as a trial.
Litter dropped on shire roadsides, pathways and gutters commonly ends up in the stormwater system, which is discharged into local estuaries and the ocean.
‘Drain Buddies’ were installed in 10 storm water drains in the Batemans Bay CBD before Christmas. They catch street waste before it heads out to the estuary where it becomes marine debris.
The council will monitor and empty the baskets and record what’s caught on the Australian Marine Debris Database as part of their works schedule.
The council’s environmental education officer Bernadette Davis said it was important to know what was being prevented from entering the estuary and ultimately becoming marine debris.
“We want to know what items we are catching so we can stop the litter altogether,” Ms Davis said.
“Already we’re seeing plastic ice cream spoons, straws, cigarette butts and plastic packaging catch in the Drain Buddies – things that are easily windblown and/or carried along in heavy rain.
“Because we’re recording the data, this is an opportunity to make people aware of what types of litter end up in our estuaries and oceans.”
According to Tangaroa Blue, more than 7 million tonnes of plastic litter enters the ocean every year and in Australian waters alone, there is anything from a few thousand to more than 40,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre.
“The best option is to say ‘no’ to single-use items, question if you really need it. If it’s unavoidable, put it in the bin when you’ve finished with it, or in the recycling bin if it can be recycled,” she said.
“By keeping the land clean and picking up rubbish when you go for a walk on the beach, in the park, in your neighbourhood or along waterways, you help keep the ocean clean too.”