17 million messages

The AMDI Database passes the 17 million item milestone as litter continues to flood into Australian waterways

Tangaroa Blue Foundation and AMDI partners have identified and removed a staggering 17 million items of litter from oceans and waterways around Australia through community clean-ups over the last 16 years.

From cigarette butts to fishing litter, single-use plastics dominate the 17 million items the marine debris organisation has recorded in the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) Database.

WA Beach clean-up crew
The Dolphin Discovery Centre crew came out in full force for the WA Beach Clean-up.

“We’d like to thank the thousands of volunteers and partner organisations who have come together to collect and track litter over the past two decades. It’s with our combined efforts that we are now seeing more interest from all levels of government, industry and community in finding solutions to stop single-use plastics ending up in our waterways than ever before,” says Tangaroa Blue CEO Heidi Tait.

“The collective effort of so many passionate people working to clean-up their local area and record their findings has been the evidence needed when calling for change. By taking a scientific approach to community litter collection, we are able to have informed and constructive discussions with industry, government and communities with a view to improving processes and reducing the amount of waste leaching into our rivers, reefs and oceans.”

Reusable bags
Reusable bags cleaned up at Alva Beach for the GBRCU.

“In this year alone we have seen a container deposit scheme announced for Victoria, bans on single-use plastics planned for WA, and commitment from the plastics industry to reduce the loss of plastic resin pellets through the adoption of Operation Clean Sweep. All these initiatives prevent marine debris from occurring in the future. To complement those benchmarks, over the last 12 months a massive 10 tonne of marine debris has been removed from Cape York and Great Barrier Reef Islands through the ReefClean project.

Moa Island clean-up crew
Students and community members on Moa Island logged the 17 millionth item in the AMDI Database.

The 17 million milestone comes as Tangaroa Blue wrapped up two major annual events held in October – the WA Beach Clean-up and the ReefClean Great Barrier Reef Clean-up. Through both events, hundreds of people mobilised, covering hundreds of kilometres of coastline.

The AMDI partner organisation who logged the 17 millionth item was the Torres Strait Regional Authority at their ReefClean Great Barrier Reef Clean-up event on Moa Island. A total of 84 volunteers from the Kubin and St. Paul communities collected 107kg of marine debris. The most common items found were plastic bottles, broken hard bits of plastic, and plastic lids, which the children will reuse for artwork.

Bottle Cap & lid artwork
The children will reuse the lids and caps for artwork.

“It was so encouraging to see the communities come out in force and give their time and effort at a clean-up. This year has been hard for everyone, but despite whatever else might be going on, they made the effort to prioritise their local waterways and the greater marine environment. They keep me inspired, and it’s a privilege to be part of it all,” Tait says.

Many thanks to the Torres Strait Regional Authority for your contributions, and to the many other organisations across Australia that contribute to the AMDI Database. It is through your dedication that we can work towards solving this problem.

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