International
OLIVIA LAI / EARTH.ORG

AUS - Australia Beaches See Plastic Pollution Drop by 30% in 6 Years

Plastic waste across Australia’s beaches and coastlines has declined by a third over the past six years as a result of a wide range of local initiatives to reduce litter, according to research by Australia’s science agency.

Plastic waste across Australia’s beaches and coastlines has declined by a third over the past six years as a result of a wide range of local initiatives to reduce litter, according to research by Australia’s science agency.

Researchers at CSIRO, Australia’s national science research body, conducted extensive surveys of coastal litter including plastic and other debris such as glass in 2013, and the findings were compared with 563 new surveys in 2018-2019 across 183 sites in six Australian states. The scientists also interviewed waste managers across 32 local governments around the country.

The study, which is published in the journal One Earth, showed that there was an average decrease of 29% in pollution across the sites. In some areas, plastic pollution had cut down by up to 73%, though a small portion of areas saw coastal litter increase by 93%. The main driver behind the marked difference was active initiatives by local authorities to reduce litter.

These included installing more bins, anti-littering signs, more recycling guides, setting up hotlines to allow illegal dumping surveillance, hard waste collections, shopping bag bans, adopting a Deposit Refund Scheme that pays consumers back for recycling, as well as community beach clean-ups. Researchers also found that retaining economic-based strategies and continued waste management strategy updates across the six-year period have had the biggest effect on reducing coastal litter; areas that reduced or removed budget for coastal waste management had “dirtier coastlines”.

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