“Over 80% is plastic”: Local beach clean-up reveals growing trend of plastic waste nationally

A MONTHLY clean-up at St Kilda beach by Sea Shepherd revealed a worrying growth in plastic waste nationally in Australia.

Over 300 people across Victoria took part in the Marine Debris Campaign, which organised simultaneous beach clean-ups at Melbourne, Geelong, Warrnambool and Mornington Peninsula.

“Over all we had incredible attendance and a massive amount of Marine Debris collected across all clean-ups,” Sea Shepherd said in its Facebook page.

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Bags of rubbish collected in one hour at St Kilda beach. Source: Lauren Choo

The St Kilda clean-up reportedly collected 16 bags of debris weighing over 80 kg, with volunteers helping to count and sort the rubbish into various categories.

Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Co-ordinator Erin Lindwall said that mostly plastic was picked up.

“The main things are like single-use plastics,” Ms Lindwall said.

“So coffee cups, you know, drink bottle lids, straws, plastic bags, food containers, all of those things are what we regularly find on these kind of clean-up days.”

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Sorting of rubbish at Sea Shepherd St Kilda beach clean-up. Source: Lauren Choo

The trend of wastage has increased over the years, particularly plastic waste.

“We’re finding nationally, on average, over 80% of what we pick up is plastic, and majority of that is single-use plastics.

And that trend is very similar nationally, that’s why we need to kind of introduce these legislations, like plastic bag bans, to stop it at the source.

“Otherwise, we will continue to pick it up forever.”

Environmental group Boomerang Alliance, an ally of Sea Shepherd, was there to campaign for a ban on plastic bags.

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The plastic bag monster displaying the amount of plastic bags Australians waste in one hour. Source: Lauren Choo

Community Campaigner for Victoria Annett Finger was accompanied by the plastic bag monster to spread awareness about #BanTheBag movement.

“It’s about 300 bags that are on the costume, and about 5.7 bags are littered in a minute in Australia,” Ms Finger said.

There are three states left in Australia, Victoria, NSW and WA, that do not have a ban on plastic bags.

“We’re trying to get Victoria over the line first to ban the bag.

“Getting people to take pictures, with the speech bubble, with the monster, and for them to post it on social media to get it trending.”

Victorian Greens Senator Nina Springle showed support at the clean-up, and talked about the future of plastic bags.

“We have a bill in front of the parliament at the moment,” Ms Springle said.

“To ban all plastic bags, so not just single-use plastic bags.”

The bill is undergoing an inquiry, with the report due to be tabled back in a few weeks.

The government then have six months to respond, but I don’t know if we will wait for six months before we bring the bill back to see if we can get it through.”

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Infographic detailing the amount of litter in marine plastic pollution. Source: Lauren Choo

To show your support, sign the petition to #banthebag.

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