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February 2, 2011

Brisbane Times

Beaches are most polluted areas in NSW


Beaches and coastal areas are the most polluted sites in NSW, according to new research from Clean Up Australia.

Cigarette butts and plastic bottles were the most common items dumped across the state in 2010, while littering increased by six per cent nationally.

Launching the 2011 Clean Up Australia Day campaign in Sydney on Wednesday, Clean Up Australia chairman Ian Kiernan said the results for the 2010 year were disappointing.

"You wouldn't dump something on the floor of your living room," he said.

"Why would you drop it in the street, or bury it in the sand, or toss it in the water?

"Out of sight is not out of mind. Our oceans are being clogged with rubbish, most of which will be there long after us."

In 2010, plastic was the most predominant form of waste for the 16th year running, accounting for 37 per cent of rubbish in NSW.

Just 35 per cent of plastic is recycled in NSW annually, compared with 87 per cent in South Australia, where container deposit legislation is in place.

Mr Kiernan said this showed the SA scheme - whereby South Australians collect a deposit for each drinks container they return to a recycling depot - was effective and he called on the federal government to implement the legislation nationally.

"I'd like (the government) to realise that the environment should be head of the agenda, not the bottom of the agenda," he said.

Mr Kiernan called for a total ban on plastic bags and urged local councils to implement on-the-spot fines for cigarette butt litterers.

Cigarette butts accounted for 17 per cent of rubbish dumped in NSW, followed by drinks containers (eight per cent), and plastic chips and confectionary bags (six per cent).

Beach and coastal areas in NSW were the most polluted sites, with an average of 495 items dumped.

"This clearly demonstrates that whatever is dropped roadside, beachside, riverside, on the land, is going to end up in the stormwater system, in the rivers and creeks and then ultimately in the world's oceans," Mr Kiernan said.

"What we have got to realise in this changing world is that we have got to change, we've got to change our purchasing behaviour, we've got to change our waste management, our water management and our energy production."

Mr Kiernan called on all Australians to take part in this year's national Clean Up Australia Day, which takes place on Sunday, March 6.

Last year, more than 236,000 volunteers removed about 6100 tonnes of rubbish from thousands of sites across NSW.

"We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and it's up to us to look after it," Mr Kiernan said.


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