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Ian Kiernan AO, releases South Australia’s Rubbish Report

Media Release - Adelaide, 14 February 2011 

For over 30 years, South Australians have led the way for recycling in Australia with state based container deposit legislation.

However volunteers from 2010 Clean Up Australia Day reported removing an above average amount of plastic, (41%) compared to the national average of 34% from sites across the state.

What is this plastic that is rubbishing the rivers, creeks, bushland and parks of South Australia? It’s mainly snack and confectionery wrappers or bottle caps, with SA the only state to record chips and confectionary items as their most removed rubbish. This penchant for dropping sweet tooth wrappers is a serious issue, with an increase of this category of rubbish growing from 10% in 2009 to 14% last year.

Ian Kiernan AO, Chairman and founder of Clean Up Australia, comments; “It’s simply unacceptable that people think it’s OK to litter even the smallest confectionary wrapper. Small does not mean insignificant to the environment, it still has a lasting effect. Plastic will outlive you and me – with small items ingested by land and marine based animals; choking or starving them. As they die these animals enter the foodchain with larger animals then succumbing to the effects of plastic as it lodges in their gut. It’s a destructive cycle.

“The Festival state of Australia attracts people from all over the world.  We need to remind South Australian’s residents and visitors that dropping wrappers and bottle caps in our parks, bushland, rivers and beach is just like dropping them on the floor of our own living room or backyard. We are calling on all residents to register for the Clean Up on Sunday March 6th and be proud that tourists will be visiting a clean state.”

Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood is urging local residents to roll up their sleeves and join him in the Adelaide City Council clean up at Tambawodli Park on West Terrace, between Henley Beach Road and Sir Donald Bradman Drive.

“Come on Adelaide, let’s get out there and do our bit to keep our City looking nice and clean,” Stephen said.

This call to action comes as Clean Up Australia announced the results of the 2010 Rubbish Report. Last year in South Australia, an estimated 61,510 volunteers removed approximately 1,304 tonnes of rubbish from 593 sites. Nationally, 588,000 volunteers removed an estimated 15,560 tonnes from 7,073 registered sites, making Clean Up Australia Day the largest community participation event in Australia.

Ian Kiernan continues, “South Australians are national leaders when it comes to recycling glass and plastic containers. You have also conquered the plastic bag, which can last up to 450 years in salt water. It’s now time for us to focus on those non-recyclable plastics that are so damaging to our environment.”

 “Our 2010 Rubbish Report highlights the amazing achievement of all our Clean Up Australia Day volunteers. They do a fantastic job of cleaning up their own local areas. With rubbish increasing its visibility by 6% in 2010, we can’t afford to sit around – we need to take action for our local environments.”

Clean Up Australia Day began when founder Ian Kiernan was shocked by the amount of waste he encountered while sailing the world’s oceans. Preventing waste from entering waterways is still a key goal of Clean Up Australia Day, and Clean Up urges South Australians to do their bit by registering for Clean Up Australia Day 2011.


  1. Plastic chips and confectionary bags
  2. Cigerette butts
  3. Glass pieces
  4. Plastic garbage/rubbish
  5. Small paper


  1. River/creek
  2. Public bushland
  3. Parks
  4. Beach/coastal


  1. Plastic
  2. Paper
  3. Miscellaneous (90% cigarette butts)
  4. Metal/aluminium
  5. Glass

Other SA results:
Fact 1 – South Australia generates 3 million tonnes of waste every year, 34% of which goes to landfill .
Fact 2 – South Australia has had a container deposit scheme since 1977, and enjoys a much higher recycling rate compared to other states .
Fact 3 – An above average amount of plastic was found in SA – 41% of waste found in SA was plastic compared to a national average of 34%. In particular, plastic waste included chip and confectionary packets, plastic bags and bottle tops.  
Fact 4 – A well below average amount of glass was found in SA, with 6% of waste found being glass compared to a national average of 10%.
Fact 5 – Rivers and creeks were the most polluted public sites surveyed in SA, with an average number of items per site of 370. Interestingly rivers and creeks were not among the top 5 sites in 2009..
Fact 6 – SA was the only state to record chips and confectionary items as their most removed item.  This figure has increased from 10% in 2009 to 14% in 2010.
National findings from Clean Up Australia 2010 Rubbish Report:

  • Plastics represent 40% of all rubbish found including pet drink bottles, bottle caps and lids plus chips/confectionery bags
  • There was a 6% increase in number of rubbish items found per surveyed site, equating to 124 items per square kilometres.
  • Outdoor transport sites had the highest density of rubbish of all sites surveyed, with 326 items per square kilometre. They had close to twice the waste density of shops/malls and 46 times more waste than public bushland
  • Cigarette butts were the most commonly found item for the 15th year in a row – 1 in 5 waste items removed in 2010 was a cigarette butt
  • Beach and coastal areas and rivers/creeks showed the significant waste density at 164 and 108 items per square kilometre respectively

Australia’s largest community participation event. Get a group together and register your chosen Clean Up Site online.

Clean Up Australia Day – Sunday 6 March
Business Clean Up Day – Tuesday 1 March
Schools Clean Up Day – Friday 4 March

Your local park, waterway, bus area, beach or street.

Everyone is welcome – friends, family, kids, community groups, work colleagues or anyone else.

Register for Clean Up Australia Day now at www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au or call 1800 CUA DAY for more information.


For any further media information or an interview, please contact:    
Monique Jones or Shadiyah Lim Taurus Marketing                                                              
Phone: +61 2 9415 4528 or +61 413 689 343                                                          
Email: monique@taurusmarketing.com.au / shadiyah@taurusmarketing.com.au