Litter Trackers: 'Burbs to the Bay

Did you know 95% of litter on our beaches is transported through stormwater drains from suburban areas?

The Litter Trackers: ‘Burbs to the Bay project connects scientists with schools and community groups to launch GPS tracked bottles into Geelong’s waterways to demonstrate how and where litter travels in our waterways.

The project aims to reduce littering in Geelong, Bellarine and the Surf Coast and educate communities about the environmental effects of litter on our waterways to empower individuals with the knowledge to make informed choices about preventable litter pollution.

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 (reference number OPP-47712).

Event details

Cowies Creek Barwon River @ Gundog Lane Barwon River @ Belmont Common Spring Creek
North Geelong
Secondary College
August 2022
St Joseph's FLC
August 2022
Geelong High School &
Northern Bay College
August 2022
Freshwater Creek
Steiner School
September 2022

Why is it important?

Litter is the most visible pollutant in the environment.

Every year 0.8-2.7 million tons of litter enters waterways and oceans. From cigarette butts to plastic bottles, most of what we drop on the street is transported into local creeks and rivers by stormwater runoff and washed onto our beaches or into our oceans. Here, it slowly weathers and degrades over time into microplastic, accumulates on shorelines, sinks to the seabed or floats on the sea surface where it reduces water quality and causes harm to aquatic life.

Litter items may end up trapped in stream-side vegetation, collected by litter traps, or transported along the waterway where it eventually ends up in the ocean. Litter affects several of our industries such as fisheries and aquaculture, tourism and shipping, which has a direct and avoidable economic cost to local and state governments, and to communities.  

The price tag of litter in our oceans is estimated to exceed $197 billion USD by 2030.

The Victorian Government is working to protect our waterways and Port Phillip Bay by reducing litter.  As part of the ‘Burbs to the Bay project, schools and community groups will release bottles fitted with GPS tracking devices in various creeks and rivers across greater Geelong to simulate the movement of litter through waterways.

The project aims to reduce littering by educating communities about the environmental impact 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.

Through the Litter Trackers: ‘Burbs to the Bay project, everyone can join in driving change and building a cleaner, healthier future for Victoria’s waterways and bays.

Let litter tell the story.

Follow the Litter Trackers Project and:

  • Learn why litter is an important environmental issue.
  • See how litter travels from your hand or pocket to our waterways and beaches.
  • Find out 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

Follow us on Facebook for updates on future projects including Geelong launches in 2022. Contact Monica at monica.tewman@rmit.edu.au if you would like to bring litter trackers to your local waterway.

Check out where previous Litter Trackers have travelled

The Litter Trackers was a collaborative project between RMIT University and Melbourne Water, supported the Victorian Government as part of the Port Philip Bay Fund project 6076. GPS tracked bottles were released into 5 waterways across Greater Melbourne. You can check out the Litter Trackers journeys through these waterways via the animation videos and tracking data provided in the links below.

Watch animations of the journeys other Litter Trackers have taken by clicking the buttons below.

Videos by Cordelia Brown

Read our tracking data

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.

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

Puddles the platypus

Foundation – Year 2

Stormwater story

Years 3 – 4

Melbourne Water Litter Education

Years 3 - 6

Melbourne Water Litter Education

Years 7 - 10

Discover more

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

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 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

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.