Tasmania’s three regional Waste Management Groups are encouraging everyone to Step Up to Clean Up Tasmania during Australia’s biggest community based environmental event, Clean Up Australia Day, as the state’s environment continues to feel the effects of increased household waste and changed habits created by COVID-19.
Since the pandemic began, there’s been growing numbers of single-use plastics, face masks, and take away coffee cups and food containers littering Australia’s footpaths, parks and beaches. Tasmania’s count for food packaging litter topped the nation over this period, representing 14.47% of litter collected in Tasmania, 4.6% higher than the average of other states.
Northern Tasmanian Waste Management Group member, Michael Attard, said despite soft plastic recycling now being easily available in Tasmania’s two largest supermarket chains, soft plastic packaging such as chip packets and plastic bags were the second most common litter item recorded.
“Soft plastics made up 17.28% of litter collected and was second only to non-food packaging which accounted for almost a quarter of all litter found,” Mr Attard said.
“It’s understandable that people are choosing to meet friends and family outdoors to go for walks or have a picnic to maintain COVID safety, but that doesn’t have to come at a cost to the environment.”
“Taking responsibility for your rubbish is a simple pledge we can all make. Whatever you bring out with you either goes home with you or goes in your pocket or a bag until you come across a bin,” Mr Attard said.
Councils are working to empty public bins more often and install additional bins in popular areas to counter the growing litter problem.
“If you come across a bin that is full, please don’t add your rubbish or recycling on top or alongside. Do the right thing and keep it with you, otherwise it will end up as litter and risk polluting our parks, waterways and oceans.”
Event and volunteer registrations are open for Clean Up Australia Day on Sunday 6 March, Schools Clean Up Day on Friday 4 March, and Business Clean Up Day on Tuesday 1 March. Registrations to host a clean up site in Tasmania can be made online at cleanup.org.au
Tasmanians who witness littering or find dumped rubbish can report it for action on the Tasmanian Government’s Report Rubbish site at https://rubbish.epa.tas.gov.au/
(Clean Up Australia Day photo by Austin Durnin)