The Cooks River Litter Data Snapshot 2022 provides an overview of the Key Littered Items Study (KLIS), a long-term program for monitoring marine debris along the NSW coast, with a focus on the Cooks River catchment. Data has been collected quarterly since 2017, with the aim of measuring progress towards the EPA’s targets of a 30% reduction in plastic litter items by 2025 and 60% reduction in all litter items by 2030. The KLIS results will also be used to measure progress towards the Cooks River Litter Prevention Strategy’s target of a 50% reduction in litter by 2025. The report highlights the top 10 littered items found in the Cooks River catchment in FY2021-22, including confectionery wrappers and snack bags, plastic lids and bottle tops, straws, and other food packaging. Takeaway and beverages, as well as confectionery and snacks, accounted for more than half of all the litter recorded in the catchment.
The report suggests that the new ban on single-use plastic straws, commencing November 2022, will hopefully reduce the quantity of straws at Muddy Creek next year. Additionally, some other takeaway items are also banned from 1 November 2022, including single-use plastic stirrers, cutlery, bowls, and plates, as well as expanded polystyrene food service items like containers and cups. The report recommends focusing litter prevention efforts in the Cooks River catchment on takeaway litter (particularly plastic lids and bottle tops), confectionery wrappers, snack bags, and other food packaging. The chart provided shows that the number of items recorded reached a low point in 2020-21 then increased in 2021-22, but the results should be treated with caution due to the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and high rainfall and runoff in 2021-22. Long-term trend data will provide a more accurate picture.