Govt funds $2.7mil towards national litter database

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

It's World Environment Day and the government is funding $2.7mil towards education and research focused on beaches and keeping plastics out of our oceans.

Ōrākei Primary School children are showing the way as caretakers for the environment.

“It's really important because it's helping the environment and it's also not killing the animals,” says year 5 student, Peter, “And we really need them to stay alive cause that's how we stay alive too.”

In a first, the Ministry for the Environment is funding $2.7mil to develop an education programme and national litter database.

“We have a big gap around waste data,” says Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage.

“We don't know very well how much waste we're producing and this initiative by Sustainable Coastlines, working with iwi, hapū, communities, schools, and with Stats NZ, MFE and DOC, [will provide] better measuring of what litter is ending up both on our beaches and on our stream banks.”

New Zealand imports around 300,000 tonnes of virgin resin to turn into plastic packaging products.  The programme will train 'citizen scientists', students and beach clean-up groups to input data using a standard scientific methodology.

“The information from the data will better inform the government, businesses, and communities about the extent of the problem,” says Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei Innovation Officer, Te Aroha Morehu.

“[We will be] using that information to help us design better solutions,” says Sustainable Coastlines Co-founder and Coastline Lead, Camden Howitt, “So that means politicians and decision makers, it means school students and researchers all have the right information.”

Twelve local and international companies have signed a NZ Plastic Packaging Declaration with a commitment to use 100 percent recyclable packaging by 2025.

The funding will also be used to establish a nationwide littler education curriculum to be taught in schools across the country.