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National litter project to be trialled during Sunday beach clean-up

Citizen scientists are being be recruited in Gisborne over the weekend to collect data for a nationwide litter project while cleaning up Waikanae Beach.

During tomorrow’s beach clean-up, local group Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti will team with award-winning charity Sustainable Coastlines to help trial the new nationwide beach litter data collection programme.

Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti’s Nicky Solomon says the group is excited about the collaboration.

“The environmental impact of plastic is receiving the attention it deserves right now and so we’re delighted to work with Sustainable Coastlines on this initiative,” she said.

“Working together on a meaningful project like this is good for the community.

“Bring the whole whanau along. Kids make great citizen scientists and they’re excellent advocates for the planet.”

The Sustainable Coastlines project is set to develop a litter prevention education programme and set up a national beach litter database.

The charity is looking for communities around New Zealand to help implement the programmes long-term, says Sustainable Coastlines co-founder Camden Howitt.

“Through this project, and by working with caring communities around the country, litter is a problem we can and will solve.”

Mr Howitt says data collected since the charity began in 2008 reveals the worst offending products to be microplastics, food wrappers, bottle caps and lids, plastic bags, and polystyrene foam.

“Because data like this is not readily and publicly available, decision-makers lack some of tools they need to enact change.

“Through this project, politicians and business leaders, students and scientists, writers and researchers alike will all have the right information to make decisions to solve our litter problem,” says Mr Howitt.

Thanks to support from Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti, Gisborne District Council, Department of Conservation, Tairawhiti Environment Centre, and Eastland Port, two Sustainable Coastlines team members are joining Wainui Beach-based project manager Sandy Britain to roll out tomorrow’s trial.

Dr Solomon says the Sustainable Coastlines project will bolster the group’s monthly beach clean-ups.

“This initiative will add to the scientific understanding of a global problem.

“Our region has an opportunity to show leadership in community action to address the issue of plastic pollution. Collectively we create the problem, and collectively we can help solve it.”

Eastland Port infrastructure manager Martin Bayley says port staff are working with Sustainable Coastlines and Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti to bring the project to Kaiti Beach in August.

The public can turn up from 1pm at the Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club and get involved in the beach clean-up, litter data project, or both.

For more information contact Dr Solomon at 027-608-2902 or visit sustainablecoastlines.org

Citizen scientists: Award-winning charity Sustainable Coastlines is teaming with Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti to trial a new beach rubbish data collection programme. The collaboration will occur tomorrow at Waikanae Beach. From left are Sustainable Coastlines project manager Sandy Britain, Zoe Solomon, Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti’s Glenda Smith, Sustainable Coastlines co-founder Camden Howitt, Sustainable Coastlines’ Oliver Vetter and Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti’s Nicky Solomon. Pictures by Liam Clayton
Sustainable Coastlines co-founder Camden Howitt and Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti's Nicky Solomon.