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Community event stops rubbish before it enters the estuary

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

Once again, Tamar NRM is partnering with Clean Up Australia for Catch it in the Catchment - an event that involves the community collecting rubbish from the kanamaluka/Tamar estuary catchment.

Now in its fourth year, this popular event invites groups of any size to create their own clean-up events to stop rubbish before it is blown or washed into our waterways and oceans.

Previous clean-up events have attracted over 1,000 volunteers that removed two tonnes of rubbish from approximately 30 sites on both sides of the Tamar between Low Head, Greens Beach and Launceston.

Clean-ups can be in local neighbourhoods, workplaces, parks, schools, and sports grounds - wherever there is rubbish.

Trish Haeusler, Tamar NRM's Coordinator of Catch it in the Catchment, has gauged an appetite from previous participants to do something positive for the environment.

"Believe it or not, picking up rubbish can feel good and be fun, especially when it is done with mates," said Trish.

"At times, we can feel overwhelmed with the news we hear about the present environmental challenges that seem too big to tackle. Therefore, local, grassroots actions are so powerful - they provide an opportunity for all of us to get involved and do something," said Trish.

A simple rubbish audit done by participants helps identify the volume of rubbish collected throughout the event and the types of rubbish and changes seen in the catchment area.

Trish Haeusler said that over the three events do far, she has already witnessed a change.

"Plastic straws for example, were initially found in their hundreds, but none were found at the last clean up," said Trish.

New waste regulations and policy changes should also see changes to the type of rubbish found in the area. The rollout of the Container Refund Scheme in 2023, for example, should see a marked decrease in the thousands of plastics beverage containers picked up during previous clean-up events.

This year, Clean Up Australia is focussing its campaign on cigarette butts.

Chair, Pip Kiernan said cigarette butts are consistently the most-littered item in the country, with up to 8.9 billion butts dropped each year.

"When we think of plastic pollution, we usually think of chip packets, drink bottles or straws, but cigarette butts are the most abundant plastic litter item in the world," said Ms Kiernan.

"Filters in most cigarettes are made of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic. When littered, we're dumping not only that plastic but also nicotine, heavy metals and other chemicals into the environment."

This year's Catch it in the Catchment event runs from the 29th October to 6th of November. Groups can register for just one hour, more or a whole day, it is up to them – and rubbish collection bags will be sent directly to them.

Groups register directly with Clean up Australia, and Tamar NRM can help with other information, such as potential locations for a clean-up, rubbish grabbers, and other support.

Photo caption: St Thomas More’s Primary School Catching it in the Catchment at Hobblers Bridge Reserve


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