The Litter Trackers: Reducing Littering by Education

Litter is the most visible pollutant in the environment. Did you know that most of the litter on our beaches comes from suburban streets, transported through stormwater drains? Litter reduces water quality and harms aquatic life through ingestion, choking and accumulation of pollutants.

As part of the Litter Trackers project, scientists will work with schools and community groups to launch GPS tracked bottles into Melbourne’s waterways to demonstrate how and where litter travels once it enters our waterways.

95% of litter transported through stormwater drains into rivers, ultimately ends up on beaches in Port Phillip Bay. From cigarette butts to plastic bottles, most of what we drop on our streets is washed into the stormwater system by rainfall, travels via our waterways to our bays and washes onto our beaches.

The Litter Trackers is a collaborative project between RMIT University and Melbourne Water, supported by the Victorian Government. It is funded by the Port Phillip Bay Fund Project No: 6076.

Project Background

95% of litter transported through stormwater drains into rivers, ultimately ends up on beaches in Port Phillip Bay. From cigarette butts to plastic bottles, most of what we drop on our streets is washed into the stormwater system by rainfall, travels via our waterways to our bays and washes onto our beaches.

Our catchments receive stormwater from urban areas. This stormwater often contains litter carried from Melbourne’s streets into the drainage system, which is transferred into local creeks and rivers.

Litter items may be trapped in stream-side vegetation, collected by litter traps, or transported along the waterway eventually ending up in Port Phillip Bay. Litter is a direct financial cost towards local and state governments, and therefore to the community. The Victorian government is working to reduce litter to protect the our waterways and Port Phillip Bay.

Bottles containing GPS trackers will be released in various creeks and rivers together with schools and community groups to simulate the movement of litter.

The project aims to reduce littering by educating the Port Phillip Bay community about the environmental impact of litter on our waterways through awareness raising, educational programs in schools and improving understanding of how litter moves from our suburbs to our beaches, bays and the ocean.

Through the litter trackers project, everyone can join us in driving change and building a cleaner, healthier future for Melbourne’s waterways and bays.

Why is this important? Let litter tell the story.

Follow the Litter Trackers Project and:

  • Learn why litter is an important environmental issue.
  • Learn how it travels from your hand or pocket to our waterways and beaches.
  • Learn If extreme weather conditions affect the litter journey.
  • Understand how litter can remain trapped in our creeks, rivers, estuarine and marine environments impacting waterway health and aquatic wildlife.
  • Increase your awareness of local waterway values and the connections between catchment activities and waterway health.
Litter-Trackers-GPS

The Litter Trackers Project has ended

Follow us on Facebook for updates on future projects. Contact Kavi at kavitha.chinathamby@rmit.edu.au if you would like to bring litter trackers to your local waterway.

Check out where our litter trackers travelled to:

Dandenong Creek

Check out our our litter trackers jouney through Dandenong Creek.

WATCH THE JOURNEY HERE

Elster Creek

Check out our our litter trackers jouney through Elster Creek.

WATCH THE JOURNEY HERE

Maribyrnong River

Check out our our litter trackers jouney through Maribyrnong River.

WATCH THE JOURNEY HERE

Merri Creek

Check out our our litter trackers jouney through Merri Creek.

WATCH THE JOURNEY HERE

Gardiners Creek

Check out our our litter trackers jouney through Gardiners Creek.

WATCH THE JOURNEY HERE

Videos by Cordelia Brown

Web mapping capabilities designed and created by Dr Yuntian Bai and Mr Yaguang Tao from the RMIT University Geospatial Science Department, School of Science.

GPS tracking devices designed by Digital Matter

Read our tracking data

Skeleton Creek, Seabrook - 9 December 2019
Seabrook Primary School
Hobsons Bay City Council
Friends of Skeleton Creek
Melbourne Water

Olinda Creek, Lilydale - 10 December 2019
Mount Lilydale Mercy College
Yarra Ranges Council
Friends of Olinda Creek
Melbourne Water

Plenty River, Templestowe - 10 December 2019
Montmorency Secondary College
Banyule City Council
Melbourne Water

Balcombe Creek, Mount Martha - 12 December 2019
Mount Martha Primary School
Balcombe Estuary Reserves Group (BERG)
Mornington Peninsula Shire
Mount Martha Beach Patrol
Melbourne Water

Yarra River, Richmond – 16 December 2019
Melbourne Girls’ College
Yarra Riverkeepers
Melbourne Water
Melbourne City Council
Parks Victoria

Yarra River, Templestowe - 14 October 2019
Templestowe College
Manningham Council
Melbourne Water

Darebin Creek, Thornbury - 15 October 2019
Thornbury High School
Darebin Creek Management Committee

Kananook Creek, Frankston - 16 October 2019
Frankston High School
Frankston City Council
Kananook Creek Association
Frankston Beach Patrol
Seaford Beach Patrol
Port Phillip Bay Ecocentre

Merri Creek, Coburg North - 17 October 2019 
Antonine College
St Raphael's Primary School
Oak Park Primary School
Merri Creek Management Committee
Enviro Education for Kids
Melbourne Water

Moonee Ponds Creek, Oak Park - 18 October 2019
Moreland Council
Moonee Valley City Council
Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek
Moonee Ponds Creek Collaboration - Melbourne Water
Strathmore North Primary School

Watts River, Healesville – 23 July 2019
Scotch College
Yarra Ranges Council
Healesville Environment Watch Inc

Jackson’s Creek, Gisborne – 24 July 2019
Gisborne Primary School
Macedon Ranges Shire Council
Friends of Jacksons Creek

Gardiners Creek, Blackburn – 25 July 2019
Whitehorse Council
Blackburn Lake Sanctuary

Werribee River, Werribee – 26 July 2019
Werribee Riverkeeper
Wyndham Council

Kororoit Creek, Altona – 29 July 2019
Williamstown High School
Hobsons Bay Council
Friends of Williamstown Wetlands

Dandenong Creek, Vermont  - 28 May 2019
Bentleigh West Primary School
First Friends of Dandenong Creek

Merri Creek, Brunswick East - 31 May 2019
Antonine College
Merri Creek Management Committee
Waterwatch

Maribyrnong River, Aberfeldie - 31 May 2019
Our Lady of the Nativity Primary School

Elster Creek, Elwood - 9 May 2019
Port Phillip Ecocentre & Friends of Elster Creek

Dandenong Creek, Vermont - 10 May 2019
First Friends of Dandenong Creek

How can you be involved?

  • Join our Facebook page for updates on litter journeys.
  • Follow the map to see how far our litter is traveling.
  • Share our project - Engage your community to raise awareness around litter.
  • If you an educator, classroom materials are available here as part of your curriculum.
  • If you find our litter bottles, please leave them undisturbed. Citizen Scientists will retrieve the bottles. Please email the contact listed on the bottle if found out of a waterway or in an area of concern.
  • Do the right thing. Take action! Bin your litter or any litter that you find around you. If you are not near a rubbish bin, take your litter home.
  • Report people who throw litter from a Victorian-registered motor vehicle to EPA. You can report via EPA’s website, by downloading a report litter app or via EPA’s 24 hour Pollution Hotline (1300 EPA VIC)

Litter Education Materials for Schools

Discover more

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer