Removing rubbish from the environment does not only visually restore the natural state, it mitigates the toxic effects of plastic degrading in the environment and the risk to humans and animals that can be harmed through deliberate or accidental interaction with the debris. To date, Tangaroa Blue’s volunteers and AMDI partners have cleaned beaches and waterways at over 3,869 sites around Australia and removed over 1,434 tonnes of rubbish. Our events range from sites that have been cleaned up every month since 2004 to massive multi-day adventures in some of Australia’s most remote and most polluted areas which can result in volunteers collecting 3-7 tonnes of mainly plastics from one beach alone.
To solve the problem in the long run we need to understand it: Therefore, every piece of rubbish that is collected is entered into the Australian Marine Debris Database, the most comprehensive collection of marine debris data in the country, containing over 17 million items. More than 140 categories give an exact image of what types of rubbish occur in certain areas and, if the beach has been cleaned-up multiple times, how the quantity and quality of litter changed over time. With this understanding in mind, it is then possible to create solutions that are tailored to certain issues in specific areas – source reduction plans. The database has an open access policy, enabling anyone to enter data and to view a certain set of data online.
Whilst Tangaroa Blue organise countless clean-up events around the country, often it is school groups and communities taking initiative and recording and entering the data into the database. Keen to join a beach clean-up or organise your own? Learn how to get involved.
Our biggest clean-up effort to date:
- The WA Beach-Clean-up: Since 2004 volunteers have been registering their own sites to run this massive event every year in October.
- Some beaches have been cleaned and monitored monthly or quarterly for up to 15 years. Our monitoring sites include 4-Mile-Beach in Port Douglas (QLD), Cape Kimberley (QLD), Quarry Bay (WA) and Injidup (WA).
- Since 2011 we have coordinated week long adventures every year between May and September in Cape York, removing an average of 3 tonnes of rubbish each time and involving up to 200 volunteers from around the country along with local Traditional Owners and Rangers.
- In 2015 we received a request to clean-up after two category 5 cyclones in QLD, one in Yeppoon and one in Cape Bedford north of Cooktown. During these events, we encountered the worst debris density ever recorded by us: 1.2 tonnes of plastic on only 500 m of beach.
- In October 2015 we were asked to coordinate the Great Barrier Reef Clean-up. Over two weekends we coordinated 11 clean-up events with a total of over 1,000 volunteers removing more than 100,000 individual items from the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.