RMIT: Litter released into waterways teaches communities a lesson


Bottles fitted with GPS tracking devices are being released into the Barwon River to demonstrate how and where litter travels once it enters Victoria’s precious waterways.

As part of the Litter Trackers: ‘Burbs to the Bay’ project, scientists from RMIT’s Aquatic Environmental Stress Research Group (AQUEST) are working with schools and community groups to deploy 21 devices into Geelong, Bellarine & Surf Coast waterways.

The project aims to reduce littering by educating communities about the environmental impact of litter on waterways.

Dr Jackie Myers from AQUEST, The Aquatic Environmental Stress Research Group, says the project aims to educate communities about the environmental effects of litter on our waterways through awareness raising, educational programs in schools and improving our understanding of how litter moves from our suburbs to our beaches, bays and oceans.

“95% of what we drop on our streets is washed into the stormwater system by rainfall, travels via our waterways and ends up in our bays and on our beaches,” said Myers.

“Ultimately, we want people to understand and take action to reduce litter in our waterways.

“Some bottles make their way to the bay and our beaches, some get trapped in debris where large amounts of rubbish accumulate and choke the waterway, some end up high on the banks after a large rain event, occasionally a citizen finds them and returns them to us or a recycling facility.”

“Victoria’s waterways are a valuable resource, and everyone is responsible in driving change and building a cleaner, healthier future for the states waterways and bays.”

The project was first launched in waterways around Melbourne in 2020, and Myers says this round will demonstrate how litter travels through waterways of Geelong, Bellarine & Surf Coast for the first time.

“Litter Trackers has had some great traction with participating schools. It’s great to see kids are engaged in the health of our waterways and eager to create change and share messages around litter reduction.”

The Litter Trackers: ‘Burbs to the Bay is a collaborative project between RMIT University, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and Bellarine Catchment Network, supported by Coastcare Victoria and the Victorian Government. It is funded by the Coastcare Victoria Community Grants.

Find out more about the project and follow the Litter Trackers journey’s at Litter Trackers: ‘Burbs to the Bay – RMIT University.

AQUEST The Aquatic Environmental Stress Research Group at RMIT is Victoria’s premier aquatic research group, which aims to identify and address the ecological impacts of pollution in aquatic environments.