Trash tracking program seeks to reduce ocean waste

September 4, 2022 BY

CCMA Chair Catherine Jenkins (left), Minister for Water Harriet Shing (centre), Labor candidate for Bellarine Alison Marchant (centre right) with RMIT scientists and students from Northern Bay college and Geelong High. Photos: SUPPLIED

GPS tracked bottles are being launched into the region’s waterways as part of a program to demonstrate to school and community groups the path litter takes from suburban streets to our beaches and the ocean.

RMIT university scientists have teamed up with the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and Bellarine Catchment Network on the Litter Trackers: Burbs to the Bay project, which is designed to help reduce litter on the coast by raising awareness about how it gets there.

Geelong schools involved in the initiative include Geelong High School and Northern Bay College, St Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre, St Terese Catholic Primary School and North Geelong Secondary College.

Water Minister Harriet Shing joined members of RMIT’s Aquatic Environmental Stress Research Group in Geelong last week to see GPS-enabled litter trackers dropped into the Barwon River, to simulate litter thrown in the catchments.

Students learn to identify the contents of their local waterways.

“Litter dropped on our streets is washed into stormwater systems where it eventually ends up in on our beaches, but this project will gather important information to help tackle the problem and protect our waterways,” she said.

Students from Northern Bay college and Geelong High were also there to learn about how 95 per cent of the litter that ends up on beaches is transported there through stormwater drains after being dropped in suburban areas.

“To build a more sustainable and liveable future for Geelong, we need healthy waterways- and that means we need to tackle our litter problem at the source,” Geelong MP Christine Couzens said.