Rubbish collectors play vital role
Almost 330,000 pieces of rubbish were collected on WA beaches by the Margaret River-born Tangaroa Blue Foundation in 2018, with hopes such monitoring will go on to show if last year’s legislation against single-use plastic bags has been effective.
Tangaroa Blue is an Australian charity that started with beach clean-ups in the South West in 2004, before spreading across the nation and is now working through the Pacific.
The organisation now informs international policy through the Australian Marine Debris Initia- tive, which sees every piece of debris collected entered into a data system allowing for the analysis of materials and their origins.
As of 2018, the AMDI database surpassed 12.5 million data points collected from 3000 clean up sites across Australia, which have been responsible for removing more than 1000 tonnes of debris from the environment.
Founder and chief executive Heidi Taylor said on a global scale, such monitoring had changed policy towards marine debris prevention. “The Maritime Safety Authority came to us last year and asked if laws put in place in 2013 (preventing boaters from throwing debris overboard) had reduced waste,” she said.
“We came back and said looking at this data analysis, there doesn’t seem to be a significant decrease.”
On October 26 The International Maritime Organisation pledged to address the persisting problem revealed by the findings of Tangaroa Blue and other organisations, and adopt a new action plan to enhance existing regulation.
“Because of this data they were able to put up this new regulation on to the agenda,” Ms Taylor said.
Ms Taylor pointed out this method of tracking the success of regulation aimed at preventing litter entering the environment would only become more important after this year’s ban on single-use plastic bags. “We’ll be able to see whether the ban has reduced that or if we’re just going to see thicker plastic bags in the ocean,” she said.
The Clean Up report will be released in February.
Surfrider Foundation members Laura Bailey, Lawson Armstrong, Sholto Armstrong, 9, Lauren Scanlon, Phoebe Armstrong, 7, and Blair Darvill.