Oatley Streams Litter Audit -Two & Half Year Report

IMG_4030The results are in from a litter audit of several urban streams in Oatley conducted by the Oatley Streamwatch Team over the period April 2014 to September 2016.

IMG_0050Audit Locations -

  • MDR Mulga Rd Site A -Myles Dunphy Reserve – Creek from sewer viaduct to 50m upstream (towards Mulga Rd)
  • MDR Kogarah Site B – Myles Dunphy Reserve – Stream flowing into MDR from pipe under the railway line draining the Kogarah side of Oatley.
  • Dairy Creek – a 50m section of the creek from the sewer viaduct to 50m upstream


Results – The top 14 items collected are shown in Table below

Untitled 1 

Preliminary conclusions and recommendations

IMG_0049The item most collected was foam insulation and packaging (whole and remnants), whilst the second most collected item was plastic film remnants.

IMG_4052The foam insulation becomes a problem in the environment as it breaks up into small pieces, right down to the spherical beads ( 2-4mm diameter). At this size it would be easily ingested by aquatic fauna and birds.

Equally the plastic film remnants tear apart, wrap around vegetation and clog streams, drains and gross pollutant traps. They also become partly buried in stream bed and banks and then may be exposed in the next high flow event. They too present a threat to aquatic fauna and birds as well as vegetation due to its smothering effect.

IMG_4581Nine out of the top 14 items were based on a plastic material in one form or another. The foam (or polystyrene) form is increasingly being used for packaging, particularly around consumer items such as electrical appliances, as it is lightweight and helps to reduce transport costs. However, this material is not readily recycled in the general community as it is not allowed to be put into our yellow recycling bins that are regularly collected.

It is understood however that it is capable of being recycled and large quantities are actually processed by specialist companies. It needs to be made easier for residents to at least drop this material off at a conveniently located central depot. The proposed Georges River Council’s St George Community Recycling Facility to be located at Depot Rd Mortdale would be a good location and it is highly recommended that the capacity for recycling polystyrene foam waste be incorporated in this facility.

P1010385In regard to plastic bags and plastic film remnants community recycling of these materials is just starting to catch up. Plastic resulting from many food packaging situations such as bread, frozen vegetables, etc and newspaper and magazine wraps and a range of other items have recently become able to be dropped off at REDcycle bins located at certain Woolworths and Coles supermarkets.

In this regard it is highly recommended that Georges River Council also consider establishing a drop-off capacity for these types of plastics in the proposed new St George Community Recycling Facility at Mortdale.


HEAR OUR NEXT SPEAKER on 27 February 2017  -  Associate Professor Stuart Khan from UNSW Civil Engineering Faculty talking about the concept of turning urban rivers – like Parramatta River – into swimmable recreation areas by arresting contaminants.  Did you know that Oatley Swimming Club at Jewfish Bay Baths, has a long history and enduring existence of as swimming? It will be interesting  what can tell us to do to ensure that it remains safe in terms of water quality?

Recent Leader article highlights that the River health is slipping.

The recent 2015-16 Georges River Combined Council’s  report card revealed a slight decline in the ecological condition of the catchment.

With the Greater Sydney Commission’s draft region plan for Sydney South projecting 23,000 more homes in the next 40 years outlook for the waterways is unfavourable.

Perils of Plastic- Prof Banati visits Myles Dunphy Reserve

IMG_1674Our Stream Watch group were fortunate to have a on site visit from Professor Banati Leader of the ANSTO Plastics project.
The increased presence of certain degradable plastics, including biodegradable plastics, is a challenge for the recycling of plastics more generally since the various plastics can be difficult to sort. Contamination of the waste stream with similar appearing but non-recyclable material by many seen as the Achilles heel of recycling.  A significant portion of plastic waste ends up in our oceans.
Professor Banati said the team’s observations were changing perceptions about how the increased degradability of a material, such as plastic, may help to reduce the litter problem but, if not properly managed, might cause a contamination problem in the future.
Recent research shows that this is problematic due to the chemicals contained within plastics, as well as the pollutants that plastic attract once they are in the marine environment. For more see Guardian Dec 2014


 ANSTO contributes to this collaborative research effort by using nuclear technologies to measure minute quantities of material such as the contaminants potentially leaching or being absorbed by degrading plastic material. ANSTO has national and international collaborations current work is being undertaken with Monash University, UTAS and CSIRO.

IMG_1676Other Research

In a new study, published Dec 2014 by the journal Royal Society Open Science, a British scientist reports the riddle of the “missing” plastic as solved: It sits in deep waters, broken down into tiny fibers and embedded in the sediment of the most remote places on Earth.

The discovery of microplastic in such remote marine habitats raises new questions about the potential for plastic debris to contaminate the food chain. Scientists have already documented that fish, birds, turtles, and other marine animals eat plastic. Thompson and his team found an even greater accumulation of plastic than previously suspected. The more plastic there is, he says, the more potential for toxicity to marine life.

Read more on the National Geographic article – Where has all the (Sea Trash) Plastic Gone

Clean up Australia Day 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn 1 March OFF collected rubbish around Poulton Park for Kogarah Council this year. There were 7 of us hardy souls doing our bit for a cleaner environment on the bright clear Sunday morning. 12 bags of rubbish were collected, of which 3 were recyclable.
On a positive note there was only about half the rubbish collected in past years, which we attributed to the work of the River Keeper team. [Note from Alison Gilroy site supervisor

September 2014 Rubbish Audit

Litter audits for Myles Dunphy (two sites) on 4/9/14 and for Dairy Creek on 23/9/14.

CLICK HEREIMG_4023 FOR RUBBISH DATA AMDI litter audit data-4

Click here for Photo Gallery

- Cigarette butts are usually in plentiful supply
- plastic packaging of all sorts is prominent
- Foam insulation and packaging is a big problem because it breaks up into small pieces but then doesn’t degrade any further
- broken pieces of glass and ceramics are also in large numbers but once the sharp edges are worn off they do not seem to pose a big threat to the creek health

IMG_4039 IMG_4049 IMG_4052

Rubbish Audit

IMG_0049Oatley Streamwatch group have been conducting litter audits at Myles Dunphy Reserve and Dairy Creek. The audits conducted are inspired by the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, an on-ground network of volunteers, communities, organisations and agencies around the country monitoring the impacts of marine debris along their stretch of coastline. Since 2004 more than 2 million pieces of data have been inputted into the Australian Marine Debris Database, creating a comprehensive overview of what amounts and types of marine debris are impacting beaches around the country.


Dairy Creek Rubbish Audit

A rubbish audit wIMG_0050as performed at Dairy Creek  during our last Streamwatch testing day on 27 May.


- Cigarette butts were found mostly at the strandline and often collected together in what would have been eddies when creek was flooding.

- Plastic drink bottles were often found clumped together in similar situations as above.

- plastic packaging for food was prominent and often broken up or just part of the packaging remaining

- bits of plastic bags were often found caught up in tree roots and low branches.
- foam plastic (polystyrene) for both food containers and insulation /packaging was a big problem as it breaks up into small bits and gets scattered everywhere but does not seem to break down / degrade very much at all.
- we collected a lot of glass in the form of small pieces from broken bottles and containers
- not much/ many metal products were collected, I guess cause they are generally a bit heavier and don’t travel far. Most of the 9 aluminium cans that we collected were crushed/flattened so even these wouldn’t have floated like a plastic bottle would have.
- we only found 3 little soy sauce fish shaped plastic containers that you get with sushi but they are annoying when you do!! 
Summary: Plastic in all its forms seems to be the biggest problem.  It gets caught up in everything.