Workshop identifies plastic as top litter priority

Burdekin Shire Council is encouraging residents to think twice about the number of single-use plastic items they use at home, work and in public spaces, after a community workshop heard plastic was the biggest source of litter impacting the Burdekin’s coastline.

Council, environmental agencies and community members came together for last Wednesday’s Source Reduction Workshop in the Loft of the Ayr branch of Burdekin Library, where they heard plastic accounted for 72 per cent of all the rubbish found at Alva Beach during community clean up events between 2016-2018.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the workshop was a partnership between Tangaroa Blue and Council to reduce common litter items at the source by inspiring action at a local level.

“The data presented at the workshop spoke volumes. Eight per cent of all the litter was aluminium cans, six per cent was plastic drink bottles and five per cent was glass bottles, so we can see that recreational use of the beach is a common cause of the littering,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“Significantly, 21 per cent of rubbish found at the beach was confirmed to have come from a local source and 40 per cent consisted of plastic remnants which could not be traced to a source.

“Five per cent of the litter was found to have originated from passing ships or ocean currents.”

Workshop participants spent time on the waste issue from an international and nationwide perspective before narrowing in on what would be done at a local level.

Cr McLaughlin said the need to reduce plastic litter items was a key message of the day.

“Following the workshop, a number of initiatives will be coming to Council in the near future for consideration,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“In the meantime, there are a number of ways our residents and businesses can get involved, such as the Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef campaign, which aims to remove all plastic straws from businesses operating on and around the Reef, and Plastic Free July, which raises awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it.

“With our close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, Burdekin residents have an important role to play in protecting and conserving the Marine Park.”

The workshop was made possible with funding through the Australian Government’s Community Heritage and Icons Grants program.

For more information about the amounts and the types of marine debris impacting beaches around the country, residents can visit the Australian Marine Debris Database at http://amdi.tangaroablue.org.

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