More than 4kg of rubbish was collected from Waihī Beach yesterday in a “huge community response” to washed-up microplastics.
Sustainable Coastlines litter intelligence programme co-ordinator Carla Fonseca-Paris said 2988 items of rubbish were collected yesterday, which weighed 4.5kg. This was from a section of the beach measuring 100m by 20m, collected in a four-hour period.
Of this, 2329 items were “unidentifiable hard plastic fragments”.
Fireworks, plastic lids, toys, food wrappers, food containers, fishing gear, cigarette butts and nurdles (plastic beads) were among the litter items collected, she said.
Sustainable Waihī Beach co-founder Pippa Coombes said it was a “huge community response,” with local businesses, organisations and “keen members of the public” joining the clean-up effort.
Coombes said the day was opened with a karakia which was “quite special”.
Volunteers collected a “massive” amount of nurdles.
“People just sat there and they didn’t have to move - they were just nurdle-collecting in one position.”
Coombes said the turnout showed the community could rally together in an emergency and cared about the taonga, marine life and wildlife.
She said the plastic nurdles would be kept locally for studies done by Sustainable Waihi Beach.
The other plastic would be taken by Sustainable Coastlines who would study it and pull data from it.
Waihī Beach lifeguard services board director of membership and communication Natalie Lloyd said it was “overwhelmed” with the number of people who came and it was “wonderful” to have such a huge response after it was organised “fairly quickly”.
Lloyd said the rubbish was collected from “an extended area” in front of the surf club.
“But it’s really just scratching the surface which was what I think has blown everybody away. There is so much out there and we were able to collect that much in that amount of time.”
Bay of Plenty Regional Council compliance manager Stephen Mellor said it welcomed community initiatives such as the beach clean carried out by Sustainable Waihī Beach.
“It’s great to see people mucking in to help restore the environment.”
Waihī Beach is one of the contenders for the New Zealand Herald’s best beach 2023 competition.
Note: An earlier version stated 45kg of rubbish was collected. The information had been incorrectly supplied.