In October, we helped organise students to release plastic bottles fitted with GPS devices into Merri Creek in Coburg, part of a collaborative project between RMIT University and Melbourne Water called Litter Trackers. The project aims to better understand the movement of litter in Melbourne’s waterways and raise awareness about the environmental impact of litter on our waterway health and marine and aquatic wildlife. Ninety five percent of the litter on Port Phillip Bay beaches comes from suburban streets transported through stormwater drains.
Starting out on a journey from the confluence with Edgars Creek in Coburg North, the GPS bottles were launched into the Merri Creek by Year 3 students from Antonine College. The bottles will be monitored online by students and researchers for four weeks as they make their way downstream towards Port Phillip Bay.
Around 150 students in Years 3, 4 and 5 from Antonine College, Oak Park Primary School and St Raphael’s Primary School attended the Litter Tracker launch. This was to celebrate National Water Week and participate in a range of waterway environmental education experiences facilitated by Merri Creek Management Committee and Environmental Education for Kids (EEK).
Activities included waterbug discovery, water testing, discovering local frogs, removal of weeds and hearing about local issues from Moreland Mayor, Cr Natalie Abboud.
Cr Abboud said educating the community about litter sources and impacts encourages everyone to play their part in reducing what ends up in our local waterways and in bays and beaches.
“Litter, particularly plastic litter, has devastating impacts on marine wildlife causing ingestion, entanglement, suffocation and starvation. Programs like Litter Trackers help us to understand how to nip the problem in the bud - before it reaches our creeks and beaches,” said Cr Abboud.
“Single use plastic items are used on average for less than 12 minutes before being discarded with the potential for lasting environmental impact. We need to be more conscious of cause and effect.”
Moreland Council, Merri Creek Management Committee and Friends of Merri Creek have been working closely together on other projects to reduce litter, investigate its potential sources and educate the community about litter in water catchments. A report on the litter collected in Merri Creek over the past two years was presented at the Community Litter Action on the Merri Creek Reduction Plan Workshop held in late November.
The National Water Week on the Merri Creek! And Litter Trackers event was funded by the Victorian Government’s Port Phillip Bay Fund, the City of Moreland and the City of Darebin.
Data from the GPS-enabled devices is available for the public to track on interactive maps at www.rmit.edu.au/littertrackers
View the City of Moreland's Plastic Wise Policy which includes actions Council has committed to, in order to reduce plastic use and addresses Council’s concern about plastic litter on land, in waterways and the marine environment https://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/about-us/news-and-publications/policies-and-strategies/
Also see an similar litter tracking project done by Antonine College students on 31 May - here.