The Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) and Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) have been successful in securing a $90,000 grant from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in the Own It and Act: Round 6 Community Litter Grant funding stream. The grant covers the development of a Regional Litter Prevention Strategy (RLPS) for the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment. The RLPS is being developed in partnership with three pilot Councils of Parramatta City, Inner West and Willoughby.
The many communities across Greater Sydney Harbour want clean and healthy waterways and public places. The community is also concerned about the broader impact of litter on marine life. Community volunteers from across the catchment have many innovative projects to encourage their communities to pick up litter. The RLPS responds to the aspirations of communities for healthy waterways and the marine environment and will set a way forward for litter prevention.
The project began in February this year, with the employment of the Project Coordinator and creation of the project Steering Committee, comprising of representatives from the three pilot Councils, community members and industry. Progress to date includes meeting key stakeholders, visiting littering hot spot areas in some of the catchment areas, collating littering data and identifying litter prevention actions in consultation with Council staff and community groups. A community perception survey around littering and littering behaviour was completed in August and results are informing the priority actions in the RLPS. A draft RLPS is being finalised and will be out for consultation in early November. The project will finish by the end of 2021.
The RLPS will be a ‘proof of concept’ to be rolled out across the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment in partnership with councils and their communities.
The strategy targets 60% less litter reaching the Greater Sydney Harbour by 2030 which reflects the NSW Government target. The RLPS objectives are to:
- Provide a regional approach to litter prevention
- Reduce the volume of litter entering Sydney Harbour and associated waterways through litter prevention
- Embed litter reduction activities into council policy, strategy and programs.
A regional approach to litter prevention:
Litter is a cross catchment issue that doesn’t adhere to council boundary lines. A regional approach will improve information sharing, targeted litter reduction campaigns, increasing enforcement and improving capture of litter. The RLPS will set a framework for councils and community to collaborate in a regional approach to litter prevention.
Reducing the volume of litter through litter prevention:
The Marine Estate Management Authority’s Community Survey identified that water pollution is considered the greatest threat to the marine estate by the NSW community. For the Greater Sydney Harbour Catchment, much of this pollution comes from stormwater discharge. Data collected by Transport for NSW has identified that non-organic mater accounts for approximately 40% of the debris collected from Sydney Harbour each year. The RLPS will set out a range of actions to reduce the volume of litter with a primary focus on litter prevention.
Embedding litter reduction into council policies, strategies and programs:
The development of the RLPS is being undertaken in close collaboration with the three pilot councils to ensure valuable information is included and gaps are identified to help form a clear framework and pathway for embedding litter reduction activities into council policy, strategy and programs. The EPA’s Own It and Act Framework helps understanding of where litter prevention fits into an organisation and how to improve approaches to litter prevention. Adoption of the Own It and Act Framework in conjunction with the RLPS will provide a strong foundation for litter prevention.