Recently, some of our Roots & Shoots Victoria team participated in Melbourne’s first and biggest street clean event “Spring Clean the City”. The event was held on World Clean Up Day, 15 September, alongside many other clean up events worldwide.
The windy and rainy morning did not deter the 300+ motivated volunteers who came to participate in the clean. Once all the volunteers were assigned a section of the Melbourne CBD to clean, Annette from Boomerang Alliance welcomed everyone and explained the importance of the event.
Victoria and Tasmania are the only states remaining in Australia that do not have a Cash for Containers scheme. This scheme would allow people to recycle bottles and cans, receiving 10 cents per item. The data collected at the city clean would be used as evidence for the Victorian government to implement the scheme.
After the encouraging speech, the volunteers set out with bags in hand to collect street litter over the next two hours. Our bags were quickly filled and our actions were greeted warmly by others on the streets who thanked event participants for their work.
When the volunteers returned, there was a strong community effort in separating the contents of the litter into categories: bottles and cans, plastic drink cups and lids, coffee cups and lids, straws and other.
A total of 2,680 recyclable drink bottles and cans were collected from the streets, which made up 33% of the total litter volume. A cash for Containers recycling scheme would allow Victorians to recycle them and could have kept most, if not all, of the bottles from littering our streets.
Additionally 913 coffee cups and 617 lids, 726 straws, 680 plastic drink cups and thousands of cigarette butts were collected from the CBD streets during the event. All of this litter was prevented from entering the Yarra River and harming the marine life in Port Phillip Bay.
Roots & Shoots Victoria would like to thank the anti-litter volunteer network BeachPatrol, Love Our Street, Boomerang Alliance and Sea Shepherd Marine Debris for organising and hosting this event.