More than 230 bags of rubbish have been collected by 300 volunteers during the annual Great Northern Clean Up, which wrapped up at the weekend.
Cairns Regional Council coordinated 15 clean-up sites from Ellis Beach in the north to Goldsborough Valley in the south throughout the month of September, picking up 11,950 litres of litter, or 50 wheelie bins.
Soft plastics, such as food wrappers and chip packets, were the most commonly discarded items followed by drink containers and cigarette butts.
Other items that littered the region’s parks and waterways included car bodies, construction materials, children’s toys and nappies, and batteries.
Any items that were too big and heavy for the clean-up bags were collected by Council staff after the clean up.
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said the annual Great Northern Clean Up was an important event for the community and the environment.
“This year, hundreds of families and individuals have helped to remove 239 bags of rubbish from litter hotspots. When you add in the hard waste that was also collected, it’s more than a tonne of litter and waste removed from our parks and waterways,” said Cr Manning.
“The obvious benefit of the clean ups is that we have removed a large volume of litter from the environment that might have been washed out to the reef with the wet season rains.
“Other benefits that aren’t so obvious are that these events draw people together to make a positive difference, and they help us to collect data and information about littering.”
The Northern Beaches clean ups drew the biggest crowds of volunteers: 40 at Holloways Beach and 50 at Trinity Beach, and were also the two sites where the most rubbish was collected – 81 bags of litter were picked up at these two sites combined.
The Yiirgangydji Land and Sea Rangers conducted a clean-up for Council at Saltwater Creek/ Fearnley Street drain, Parramatta Park, as part of this year’s events.
The rangers fished more than 2500 individual pieces of litter out of the water and off the banks, including 288 drink bottles, 151 aluminium cans, 63 wine bladders, and more than 500 plastic wrappers, adding the the total of waste collected.
The Saltwater Creek clean up site was one of several locations used for a litter audit by the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC).
The group sorted and catalogued all waste collected from these sites. The information will be used by CAFNEC and Council to better understand what types and volumes of litter are thrown out most often. The data can then be used to come up with strategies to support and encourage responsible disposal of waste.
Photo above: Samson and Lucia Pittorino pitch-in at the Trinity Beach clean up