Bottle lids, toys, cosmetic items - what's in your average city drain

By Paul Harper

Litter removed from just a single drain on Auckland's Queen Street. Photo / Joe Dowling, Shutter Pirates
Litter removed from just a single drain on Auckland's Queen Street. Photo / Joe Dowling, Shutter Pirates

The average inner-city Auckland drain has 59 pieces of rubbish in it, an Auckland-based charity has found this weekend.

Sustainable Coastlines removed the floating rubbish from 33 drains along Queen St, finding 1,969 individual pieces of rubbish.

From one Auckland drain, they found 130 pieces of rubbish - including 32 food wrappers, 28 cigarette butts and cigarette packets, 27 pieces of polystyrene, 14 pull tabs from beverage bottles, eight cosmetic items, four lollipop sticks, four plastic beverage bottles, three beverage bottle lids, three cigarette lighters, three plastic bags, two glass beverage bottles, one toy, and one drinking straw.

Recent clean up efforts along stretches of coastline on the western Coromandel Peninsula, Hauraki Gulf islands and Auckland beaches have found the rubbish dumped on the streets of Auckland finds its way onto the coastline of popular beaches and recreation areas.

A three day clean-up on the North Shore collected 15,000 litres of waste in just three days, a one-day clean-up around Rangitoto Island in December collected 200,000 pieces of rubbish, and 34,500 litres of rubbish was collected from the Coromandel Peninsula coastline in just three days.

The biggest offenders are single use plastic, Camden Howitt of Sustainable Coastlines said.

"Time and again we find that disposable products - which are unnecessary in the first place - are the worst offenders and are all-too-frequently discarded irresponsibly."

Mr Howitt said this weekend's drain clean up shows the significant impact New Zealand has on global pollution in the ocean.

"We counted just a handful of drains out of the many thousands in our cities - you can find drains like these nationwide. The effect of this constant stream of litter is huge," he said.

"The simple solution is up to all of us as individuals: reduce the amount of waste we create and what we must use, dispose of it properly.

"Then it won't end up on our beaches."

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