TerraCycle giving new life to debris

2017 BalingHave you ever wondered where all the plastics end up from the remote Tangaroa Blue clean-up events? After we sort, categorise, count and weigh all the items removed from the beach, Tangaroa Blue thoughtfully disposes of all the rubbish. We try and keep as much away from landfill as possible, saving some for artists to make amazing creations, and recycling where we can.

Our friends at TerraCycle have made that job so much easier. TerraCycle takes really hard to recycle plastics, think degraded brittle bits found on beaches – and turns it into materials and products that can be used again – creating a circular economy for what was once waste!

From the last two years, over 40 metric tonnes of plastic rubbish was collected and bailed during our Cape York clean-ups, at the end of 2017 a full shipping container was sent to TerraCycle for a new life. To see it for yourself, check out the video here. It’s partnerships like these that are the heart of the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, everyone working together to reduce plastic in our oceans.

Plastic makes corals 20 times more susceptible to disease

Tangaroa Blue Coral BottleResearch published today in the journal “Science” indicates that contact with plastic can make corals more than 20 times more susceptible to disease, and that there are more than 11 billion pieces of plastic debris on coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific. The study examined more than 124,000 reef-building corals and found that 89% of corals with trapped plastic had visual signs of disease - a marked increase from the 4% chance of a coral having disease without plastic.

In 2016 AIMS published “Identification, impacts, and prioritisation of emerging contaminants present in the GBR and Torres Strait marine environments” which suggested that marine plastic pollution was the number one emerging threat to certain marine ecosystems along the Great Barrier Reef.

With the current investment in the health of the GBR announced over the last week, which did not include any funding or focus on marine debris and plastic pollution, we would like to highlight the importance of acknowledging the significant threat that marine debris, and in particular plastic pollution, poses to building the long term resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.


Snapper Island

Snapper 2What a cracker of a day for our annual Snapper Island clean-up event! A massive 351kg removed by our awesome volunteer team. The debris load consisted of heaps of rope and plastic bottles and containers as well as the odd items including a pool noodle, a 4WD tyre on a rim, a boat captain's chair, 3 fridge doors and a wooden door. Check out more pictures of the day on our event Facebook album.

A huge thank you to Wavelength Reef Cruises for volunteering their vessel Wavelength 3, and to Jon and Lorna for crewing the vessel. It was also great to see the Seagull Prowler back in the water for the first clean-up in a long time as well - thanks Matt Wheldon! And big acknowledgement to another one of our AMDI partners, Shapes in the Sand - an eco-friendly swimwear company, whose products are made of recycled ghost-net, who sponsered the clean-up.

And just as we pulled into Port Douglas after the Snapper Island clean-up, we were joined by everyone's favourite gardener Costa Georgiadis who was keen to see what we found! He also brought along his friends Dirt Girl and Scrub Boy and the whole production team! Great to spend the afternoon talking all about marine debris and what we can all do to solve this mega issue!

Orpheus Island Beach Clean-ups Proving Successful!

2017 OI 1Orpheus Island Beach Clean-ups Proving Successful!: signs of declining marine debris

Written by: Jesse Rheinlander (volunteer) and Vanessa Carey (coordinator)

It’s been a week since Tangaroa Blue Foundation and a team of 12 dedicated volunteers set out from Lucinda towards Orpheus Island. From November 18th to 22nd their mission was to relieve a section of the windward stretch of coast from the burden of discarded and forgotten marine debris. Upon arrival the team was greeted by staff from the Orpheus Island Research Station as well as 6 additional volunteers who were in the right place at the right time to lend a helping hand in protecting our saltwater country.


Great Northern Clean-up at Alva

201710 AlvaTangaroa Blue Foundation was joined by Burdekin Shire Council, Scouts, and volunteers from Townsville and the local region for a biannual rubbish clean-up at Alva Beach. The community clean-up event was supported by NQ Dry Tropics through funding from the Austrailan Government's National Landcare Program, and aligned with ReefBlitz and the Great Northern Clean Up to push the message that the oceans are worth protecting. On October 14th 2017, thirteen beach cleaners picked up 186kg of predominantly land-based litter from 2km of coastline.

Leaving the shorelines cleaner and safer for the use of humans and the survival of marine wildlife, the team turned their focus to cataloguing each and every item they removed from the beach, contributing to the Australian Marine Debris Database. It’s important to know that data collection is just as imperative as cleaning up because if all we do is clean-up, that’s all we’ll ever do. The data is evidence to create change, it’ll ensure the long-term health and safety of marine ecosystems through ‘source reduction plans’ that aim to stop litter at its source before it enters the environment.