Yarra Riverkeeper Association and Cleanwater Group: 2020 Winner – Environmental Protection

Last updated: 20 April 2021
Yarra Riverkeeper Association and Cleanwater Group is the winner in the Premier's Sustainability Awards 2020 – Environmental Protection category.

Yarra Riverkeeper Association and Cleanwater Group

Litter and Polystyrene Pollution in the Yarra

Recognising the diabolical effects of litter and polystyrene pollution to the health of the Yarra, Yarra Riverkeeper Association in conjunction with Clearwater Group sought to combat these negative impacts.

Four large scale Yarra Blitz community clean-up events held in 2019 removed 17,500kg of vacuumed waste and 665kg of community collected waste. This was achieved by individual members of the public, volunteers and community environmental groups cleaning sections of the Yarra on foot and in kayaks.

To identify potential sources and distributions of polystyrene on the Yarra River, data on polystyrene manufacturers, high-volume users, recyclers and distributors was collected using desktop research. These potential sources were then mapped using an interactive geographic information system which also included data on major polystyrene hotspots on the Yarra River (informed by the Yarra River Blitz project), drainage catchments, stormwater outlets on the river, and the locations of each litter trap in the Yarra.

By identifying and mapping these hot spot sources of pollution and subsequently facilitating the clean-up days, the initiative not only removed significant amounts of waste from the Yarra River precinct, but further engaged and educated the public and developed recommendations to prevent future pollution.

Environmental Protection finalists 2020