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February 9, 2011

ABC News

Floods the focus for Clean Up Australia Day.

For 21 years Aussie sailing legend Ian Kiernan has been urging us to pick up after ourselves - and each other - and Clean Up Australia.

Every year in March, hundreds of thousands of volunteers don hats, gloves and boots for the country's biggest working bee.

At the Victorian launch of Clean Up Australia Day in Ballarat Ian Kiernan reminded us that this year's event is going to be busier than ever.

With flood recovery still in its early stages across the region, he says it's important that Clean Up Australia Day best supports the ongoing efforts.

"There's 21 years experience out there of the community knowing how to mobilise itself in order to clean up and I think that can be tapped into because as the flood waters recede, there's going to be a lot of waste and rubbish exposed."

Despite the amount of work already being done, Mr Kiernan doesn't think interest will wane for the March 6th event.

"We've seen it with the bushfires, we've seen it now with the series of floods and we are hopeful that if it does flag a bit through the clean up activity we can reinvigorate that."

He hopes the flagship event will continue to encourage all Australians to take pride in a cleaner and greener environment.

In 2010 the amount of disposable items increased by 6% according to the annual Rubbish Report.

While much of that is plastic, Ian Kiernan echoes the sentiments of local Clean Up Australia Day Coordinator Mike Caldwell who is calling for the return of a container deposit scheme similar to the one still operating in South Australia.

Mr Caldwell says we would enjoy much cleaner streets and roadsides if the scheme were introduced, and there's widespread consumer support for it.

According to Mr Kiernan, the support for such a scheme nationally is around 86% and it's not just about rubbish collection, it's about better resource and energy management.

But he says it's up to the industry to get on board.

"The beverage industry are avoiding their responsibility here, they're very rich and powerful but we are not letting up, we are going to keep hammering away at them."

And he could be on to something.

The tide may already be turning in other states, with the Northern Territory soon to adopt a deposit scheme of their own.

Here in Victoria though, recent efforts by Greens MLC Colleen Hartland to introduce a similar bill in 2010 fell flat.

Clean Up Australia Day falls on 6th March 2011. You can register to take part on the official website.


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