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Unplugged Sustainability Story

Caring for our beaches around the world

Coastal clean up day at Kalk Bay, South Africa

Coastal clean-up day at Kalk Bay, South Africa

Cleaning our beaches

Written by Nicolien Van Wyk, Business Analyst, South Africa

Aurecon took part in the 31st Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup day, which was held on 17 September 2016. Despite the cold weather staff came out to take part in the world's largest clean up event.Teams joined clean up initiatives at Melkbosstrand and Kalk Bay in the Western Cape and the East London staff joined the Buffalo City Metro clean up.

A team of over 70 volunteers (56 adults and 14 Children) collected over 500kg of rubbish. There were 24 Aurecon staff (with family and friends), supported by 46 community members that took part in the Kalk Bay Clean up. The most collected items were broken glass and cigarette butts. Each volunteer enjoyed coffee/hot chocolate and pastry courtesy of Olympia Bakery.

Aurecon folks at Melkbosstrand collected 5 bags of rubbish with a total weight of about 24kg. The weirdest thing that was collected at Melkbosstrand was a purple bra (it must have been some beach party). Grossest things – diapers. It was a great family outing.

In East London the event was honoured by various participants from IWMSA members, BCMM workers, Border Kei Chamber of Business members, Aurecon staff members, ADM staff members, Government EPWP workers, Aspire workers, Cokisa staff members, and community members at large. The wet weather allowed people to assemble back at the meeting point 2 hours later, with all the collected rubbish bags, where they were addressed by Ms Nota and the Portfolio Councillor of BCMM. A vote of thanks was given to participants for spending their Saturday morning for such a worthy cause at EL beachfront, making a difference to our environment.

Aurecon staff love their beaches

Written by Claire Lyons, Local Manager, Quality Environment & Sustainability – New Zealand North Island

Plastic products certainly make life easier; individually wrapped snacks, plastic bags to store sandwiches for lunch, soft drink bottles, disposable razors, nappies, shampoo bottles, and carry bags, to name a few. To humans, these are items of comfort, if not necessity, but to marine animals, they can be a floating minefield.

When plastic reaches our waters, it poses a threat to the animals that depend on the ocean for food. To a sea turtle, a floating plastic bag looks like a jellyfish. Plastic pellets - the small, hard pieces of plastic from which plastic products are made - look like fish eggs to seabirds. These plastic items are killing our marine life.

On Wednesday 22 March 2017, 19 Auckland Office Aurecon staff and 300+ primary school children, parents and teachers, teamed up with Sustainable Coastlines, and spent a morning cleaning up two West Coast beaches in Auckland, NZ. The aim was simple: to stop plastic making its way into the waterways. It was a great opportunity to give back to the communities in which we live, work and play.

Refuse, Reuse, Reduce, Recycle (and in that order). Say no to plastic and says yes to marine life.

Cleaning marine debris

Written by Nicole Boddington, Local Manager, Quality, Environment & Sustainability - South East Queensland/Northern Australia and Louise Edgley, Quality, Environment & Sustainability Manager

Marine debris is choking our oceans, creating a devastating impact on marine ecosystems world-wide. The Australian coastline is where three of the world's great oceans meet: the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans.

Marine debris includes consumer items such as glass or plastic bottles, cans, bags, balloons, rubber, metal, fibreglass, cigarettes and other manufactured materials that end up in the ocean and along the coast. It also includes fishing gear such as line, ropes, hooks, buoys and other materials lost on or near land, or intentionally or unintentionally discarded at sea.

This debris is harmful to marine life and can have catastrophic and often fatal results.

It can cause injury or death through drowning, injury through entanglement and internal injuries, or starvation following ingestion.

Studies and analysis of marine debris conducted by the global scientific community are revealing its disturbing impacts with alarming results:

  • 44% of marine mammals and 86% of turtle species are estimated to have plastic in their gut
  •  80% of seabird species ingest plastic, 90% of birds in those species had plastics in their gut
  • 99% of the world's seabird’s species will be ingesting plastic by 2050 if current marine pollution trends continue
  • 8 million metric tonnes of land-based plastic goes into the oceans each year, the equivalent of 16 shopping bags full of plastic for every metre of coastline (excluding Antarctica)
  • By 2025 it is estimated there will be enough plastic in the ocean (on their most conservative estimates) to cover 5% of the earth’s entire surface in cling wrap each year

(Figures obtained from Sea Shepherd)

Sea Shepherd is joining with local communities all over Australia to run Operation Marine Debris to help address this problem. Two members of the Quality, Environment & Sustainability team joined the Marine Debris team and 85 other volunteers at Sutton’s Beach in Redcliffe, Australia one Sunday morning to clean up this beautiful part of the world.

In the space of only two hours, our group was responsible for collecting the following waste:

  • 1005 cigarette butts
  • 399 single use plastic items (straws/bags etc.)
  • 481 plastic food wrappers
  • 3 needles

Every piece of rubbish collected from the beach and the surrounding picnic area can potentially save a marine animals life and make your next trip to the beach a little nicer. Please be aware of where your litter ends up. Take your rubbish home again with you after your next outdoor adventure. Better yet, swap disposable water bottles, straws, plastic bags and take away coffee cups for reusable, ecofriendly items. All the waste we make has to end up somewhere. Let’s minimise it wherever we can.

If you are interested in taking part in a beach clean-up near you, head to the Sea Shepherd website for details.

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