Keep Australia Beautiful is proud to announce that its iconic Keep Australia Beautiful Week will be held this year from 17 to 23 August.
In its 48th year, the event raises awareness about the simple things all Australians can do in their daily lives to reduce their impact on the environment and encourage action.
This year’s theme for Keep Australia Beautiful Week is “Litter: Prevent the Spread”.
The campaign is inspired by the unprecedented circumstances triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting lockdowns and restrictions across the country, and the public’s increased use of single-use items to prevent the spread of the virus. Keep Australia Beautiful is calling on all Australians this year not only to stay safe, but also to help prevent the spread of litter in our beautiful country.
Keep Australia Beautiful CEO, Val Southam said that due to the pandemic, many more items became prevalent in the litter stream.
“We are asking all Australians, young and old, to become more aware of what is finding its way into the litter stream,” said Ms Southam.
“Under COVID-19, our daily behaviour was forced to change. We are introducing other things into the waste stream that normally would not be there on a large scale,” continued Ms Southam.
“Things such as disposable face masks and gloves. People are also purchasing more take away food, resulting in more containers being disposed, not to mention the increase of disposable coffee cups brought on by people not being able to use their reusable coffee cups.”
According to Dr Trevor Thornton from Deakin University, contamination rates in domestic recycling have increased in the last six months – up to 30% in some regions, with 10% to 15% being the national standard.
Dr Thornton believes the key is simple education about what can and cannot go into recycling to reduce confusion.
“We don’t expect to change people’s lifestyles but by educating the community on how to correctly dispose of the items and what happens to them when they do, helps build awareness,” said Dr Thornton.
Ms Southam commented that the KAB Week was born in 1972 to raise awareness about the litter-related issues faced in Australia and the simple things people could do in their daily lives to reduce their impact on the environment.
“It is important to stress that it should not be limited to just one week per year. If we are serious about doing the right thing by our beautiful country and making a difference to our kids’ future, our actions should extend to the rest of the year. Every week should be KAB Week”, added Ms Southam.
Those wanting to get involved in KAB Week 2020 are asked to register their interest at https://kab.org.au/keep-australia-beautiful-week/ and follow the below activities, take photos of themselves doing the right thing and post them on social media tagging KAB at #KABWeek2020.
Reusable masks are starting to be found in the litter stream now and these are not only a health hazard but a hazard to wildlife if they ingest them. They should also be properly disposed of in the garbage bin, not in the recycling bin although they may look like paper. They are quite safe in the garbage bin and don’t need to be wrapped as contents are not manually handled.
Take care to properly dispose of used tissues – make sure they don’t blow away and become litter. Do not flush them down the toilet or put them in the recycling bin. Use the garbage bin. Please make sure the lid is securely on your garbage bin so that any contaminated items do not escape.
Wet Wipe Wednesday
Wet wipes and sanitised wipes are also now being found in the litter stream. Please dispose of them in the garbage bin and definitely do not flush them down the toilet. They cause problems at the sewerage treatment plant and can cause costly blockages.
Thumbs Up Thursday
Rubber gloves are an important item to prevent the spread of germs, but do not let them become litter! We are starting to see them in the litter stream. They are also very dangerous for animals who might ingest them, as well as being a health hazard by spreading the virus if careless with used gloves. Place them in the garbage bin.
Fast Food Friday
During the pandemic, the number of fast food containers being used has greatly increased and they are also increasing in the litter stream. Please recycle them where possible, make sure they are clean and put in the yellow bin. Remember rigid plastics containers can be recycled or reused or repurposed.
Remember to carry pocket size sanitiser with you wherever you go. To save plastic waste, purchase a large bottle and refill it when needed. Remember to remove the pump and ensure the container is clean prior to placing it in your recycling bin.
Single Use Cup Sunday
During this pandemic, cafes and restaurants are not allowing reusable coffee cups. Good news is, you can recycle takeaway coffee cups at 7-Eleven via Simply Cups. Any brand of coffee cups is accepted, and both cups and lid are upcycled into new products.
Simply Cups has diverted more than 12 million cups from landfill in just a few years, and is supported by many of Australia’s largest coffee sellers including 7-Eleven, Muffin Break and The Coffee Club.
For more information on KAB Week, please visit www.kab.org.au/keep-australia-beautiful-week