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Coastal Litter Prevention

John Fisher, Association of Bayside Municipalities Greeting

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you are all enjoying this conference as much as I. The title of the keynote address: You Cant Throw Away a Planet was very thought provoking, dont you think? Lots of people seem to try hard to do that every day, though dont they? Im sure you all feel that. Looking down the speaker list you see people from many different backgrounds, workplaces, and industries. D.A.R.E. IS SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION

EDUCATION AND MUCH MORE! This year millions of school children around the world will benefit from D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence.
All of them with an interest in litter, or, what are basically left-overs. That such a range of people is interested in left-overs is good and bad. It means there are a lot of people trying to clean up but it also says we must have a big problem if so many people are working on it. Anyway Im sure with all these speakers providing so much information therell be lots of positive results from this conference.

First let me tell you about the organisation I work for, the Association of Bayside Municipalities and our interest in litter, then Ill discuss the problem of Coastal Litter, particularly litter in Port Phillip Bay, then Ill talk about litter reduction strategies and some programs run by members or others which have proved particularly appropriate for coastal situations. About ABM ABM or the Association of Bayside Municipalities, is the association of the ten councils that abut Victorias Port Phillip bay. ABM aims for: Improved outcomes through collective approaches to shared issues. Sustainable use of the bay, and Sharing of members knowledge and experience.

ABM has been at the forefront of many improvements in management of Port Phillip Bay and its foreshores. But ABMs prime interest since inception 30 years ago has been litter; well more precisely beach cleanliness. 30 years ago bayside Councils came together to lobby the Government to provide financial assistance for beach cleaning. In those days mechanical cleaning was an adequate response to the beach litter problem. The arrangement that was established then is still in place today. Through that arrangement bayside councils receive supplementary financial support to maintain beaches in the condition we all expect. And clean beaches do not come cheaply; each year ABM Councils spend in excess of $2 M on beach cleaning. However mechanical beach cleaning is not the panacea and ABM Councils are now finding new litter reduction strategies are needed to cope with what is growing and changing problem. The Coastal Litter Problem Coastal litter is complex. And the Port Phillip Bay litter problem is more complex because the bay is in effect a closed system. What goes into the bay stays there, unless it is digested by the bays ecosystem. Coastal Litter Defined Lets have a quick look at the Litter youll find on any foreshore on Port Phillip Bay. Broadly there are three main ingredients. Seaweed Leaves, and A cocktail of man made rubbish.

Lets consider each component and how it got there.

Almost without exception coastal litter is borne by water to its resting place. Litter in the bay comes from stormwater drains, creeks and rivers This means remedies for coastal litter lie away from the coast in upstream locations.

Seaweed : By some definitions of litter, not all debris found on beaches or along our coasts is bad litter; some is good.

That decaying smelly seaweed that is washed ashore, (or wrack), plays a role in ensuring the health and cleanliness of the bay.


Not all coastal litter is man made, it may just be man induced. The main litter item entering Port Phillip Bay is leaves. Prior to urban development leaves mainly remained where they fell; now they fall onto impervious surfaces (roofs, pavements, etc) and are washed into stormwater drains and water courses and into the bay. Leaves are harmful in the bay. In the process of their decay in the bay they release among, other things, nitrogen, which promotes the growth of algal blooms etc. Nitrogen reduction is a key target of the State Environmental Planning Policy (or SEPP) for the bay and stormwater managers are expending enormous effort and large amounts of money to meet the targets. Man made rubbish And finally the man made component of coastal litter. Man made litter has two interesting aspects:

1. theres a large seasonal element; more litter in summer, and 2. there always seems to be bits that are marine industry related (paint spray cans
etc.) Coastal Litter Reduction Strategies So how are coastal litter problems being addressed? In the front line there is a range of engineering strategies which prevent most litter from reaching the coast. Current strategies include: Litter traps

installation of litter gross pollutant and other types of traps which catch litter in drains and water courses before it gets to coasts.

Water Sensitive Urban Design

Another strategy which is very important is what is termed water sensitive urban design of urban developments. Water sensitive urban design is an all embracing strategy for improving stormwater management and run-off quality. With WSUD, new developments are specifically designed to ensure stormwater entering water ways meets environmental standards including being free of leaves, etc.

Engineering solutions like these significantly reduce upstream problems, however engineering solutions on their own are usually not sufficient.

ABM & Litter In recent years ABM member councils have been responding to waste management in many new ways including though education and awareness raising. Arising from these activities Member Councils asked to ABM look at the issue of coastal litter. In response we held two open house forums/for a. These were very well attended with representatives from Regional Waste Management Groups, Ecorecycle, VLAA, EPA, indeed all the groups with strong interest in litter reduction. The aims of the forums were to identify;

any role for ABM in litter reduction: we did not want to duplicate the work of others. Litter issues that all our members had in common, and strategies for addressing the shared problems.

ABMs first forum quickly identified that a number of specific issues stood out for our members. These are:

1. 2. 3.
And 4.

The seasonality of coastal and beach litter. Summer Litter, which is an array of cigarette butts, drinking straws and containers, snack food wrappers, foams (polystyrene and polyurethane) and plastic bags, and Cigarette butts alone: butts are such a large problem it was agreed we should tackle them as a separate item, Fishing Litter, or the litter left by fishermen at favoured fishing spots.

Education and Community Awareness Raising And from the Forums came some very clear guidelines for actions;

Education and awareness raising tools that are shared have more impact than separate ones. Messages that are often repeated have more impact and are better remembered. We needed slogans, logos, media releases and stories, etc. that would be heard and seen right around the bay and the Victorian coast.

ABM members all have experience in community awareness raising, and we found some really good tools relating to Summer Litter already existed. Port Phillip City Council One of our members, Port Philip City Council, had developed a slogan, Bin It or Swim In It, together with a graphic, or logo, that could be used as the centrepiece of all Summer Litter efforts.

The slogan and logo were developed from a competition among local schools. All the ABM Councils, and some others as well, took up the Bin It or Swim In It brand, so the message was heard on radio from the surf coast all the way around the coasts and bay to Portsea and on to Tooradin. Bin It or Swim In It was even used by Murray River councils aiming to reduce litter at beaches on the river and lakes. The Bin It or Swim In It message and logo were also picked up in a variety of other ways; on Council papers, in media releases and in various give-aways such as drink bottles and Frisbees etc. Bin It or Swim In It has also been stencilled on stormwater drain pit covers and for stickers on rubbish bins. Bin It or Swim In It is the common brand that links upstream community awareness raising activities with on beach programs. Cigarette Butts Cigarette Butts are an enormous problem. Its not generally recognised but this is a new problem, at least in the dimensions we see it today. The problem we now have is a consequence of bans on indoor smoking, inadequate upstream trapping mechanisms and irresponsible disposal. Its estimated that 350,000 butts go into Port Phillip Bay each day. Thats a lot of butts and its an unsustainable number. However its only about 3% of the more than 4.2 billion cigarettes smoked in the Port Phillip catchment each year. By most standards achieving a 97%trapping result is fantastic, but in this case, the magnitude of the problem is so great we must do better. However there is really one strategy that can yield the results needed. And that is more responsible disposal by smokers. And to get this we need behaviour change. ABM & ButtsOut Last summer all the ABM members with beaches ran Butts Out campaigns to bring home to smokers the need for responsible butt disposal: in this case by using personal ashtrays. (Im sure you all know Steve Brossman and Butts Out. Steve also did a presentation here) ABM conducted a launch for all the Councils programs which ran right across the busiest holiday period in January and early February, and we also co-ordinated media releases etc. Responses to ABMs launch from the media and others were very enthusiastic. And we have received great feedback about the Councils campaigns.

Numerous organisations have contacted Councils and ABM with a view to getting on board with ButtsOut at their workplaces. Take up by these organisations should reduce butts going to the bay. For next year ABM hopes to do more ButtsOut and to get stronger retailer involvement is seeling personal ashtrays. We also hope to do some cinema advertising. As you are aware a number of other groups are actively attacking Butts. We are all working closely and I think very well together. And all around I am beginning to see change. More ashtrays outside buildings, people actually using Butts Out ashtrays and many outdoor eateries with windproof ashtrays. Perhaps we are already seeing the beginnings of the wave of behaviour change that we need. Fishing Litter Now let me turn to fishing litter. Fishing litter is bait bags, line, sinkers, other tackle, cans, etc.. Fishing litter, perhaps more than any other encapsulates the problem of the need for behaviour change. Going fishing is going into the outdoors to spend a pleasant few hours. How can you do that surrounded by junk? But most favourite fishing spots are litter hot spots. Addressing the fishing litter problem requires changed attitudes not only to littering but also to the need for everybody to keep public places clean. And it all rests on each persons acceptance of their responsibility for cleanliness and a willingness to clean up ALL the leftovers after a great day in the outdoors. A number of ABM Councils have fishing litter problems. Hobsons Bay The first to address it was Hobsons Bay. They have a favoured fishing spot called The Warmies, that was also a bad litter hot spot. Hobsons Bay Council developed a program that included enlisting local bait sellers etc.. Among other things bait sellers gave out the message about responsible disposal of bags and other litter at The Warmies. The program was embraced warmly by the fishing community. Casey City Council The program was then taken up, refined and further developed by Casey City Council. Casey have some spots around the coast of Westernport and inlets to that that attract litter. Last summer they ran some very successful anti-litter events including fishing competitions and autograph opportunities with fishing celebrities.

The program has been judged a success and I expect some ABM Councils will want to take it on next summer. Lessons So what are some of the lessons from these experiences. As we all know causing behaviour change is difficult, but it can be done as road safety programs have shown. However weve also discovered that understanding the problem or in fact the many problems is paramount. What weve seen is that peoples perception of litter and acceptable behaviour vary widely from place to place. For example, people who would never litter in a national park happily bury a drinking straw or aluminium can in a sand castle and leave it there, Or a person who would never dream of dropping a drink-can on the beach will throw a cigarette butt down a stormwater grate either; because they dont equate it with litter, or they dont know it will end up in a water way or the bay.

So we must have precisely targeted messages that are appropriate for each situation and each type of litter. ABM and its member councils will continue to actively promote a broad range of strategies for litter reduction Were also on the look out for new and more effective ways to ensure our upstream public places are always clean so we avoid coastal litter all together. Thank you for your attention. I hope this conference is very rewarding for you and I wish you every success with your litter reduction efforts. And please remember :

Bin It or Swim In It

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