With the help of GPS and online interactive maps, it has now become possible to precisely track the movement of litter.

In an initiative by RMIT University – the Litter Trackers project, the university’s scientists, community groups and schools will be working together to dispose of 100 bottles with GPS tracking, over 20 locations across Melbourne.

The Litter Trackers Project

The Litter Trackers project has been collaboratively undertaken by Melbourne Water and the RMIT University. As per the belief of the project leader, this will help the residents of Melbourne in understanding the true environmental impact of the litter issue.

An astounding 95% of the total litter found on the beaches of Port Phillip Bay is originated from the suburban streets, including the massive number of cigarette butts (about 350,000) that wash into the bay every year.

With proper use of online interactive maps, people will be able to follow the movement of the bottles and understand the rapid pace at which litter moves through the waterways.

The crucial aim of the project is to explain to people how each and every one can participate in solving the issue.

The leader of the Little Tracker project, Dr. Kavitha Chinathamby said that the project would give everyone a chance to understand the gravity of the situation.

“From cigarette butts to plastic bottles, the litter we drop on our streets finds its way into our waterways and washes up on our beaches,” Dr, Chinathamby said.

She further added that litter is responsible for reducing the water quality, harming animals and fishes and running the natural beauty of the city.

Expressing her thoughts on dealing with the issue, she said that, “To build a more sustainable and livable future for Melbourne, we need healthy waterways – and that means we need to tackle our litter problem at the source.”

D. Kavitha truly believes that the Litter Tracker project would allow everyone to contribute towards driving this change to create a clean and healthy future for the bays and waterways of the city.

A Step Closer Towards Change

The project is a unique initiative to track litter in Victoria.

It is in fact, only the second attempt to track litter using GPS in the Australian waterways. Naomi Dart, the Litter and Waterwatch Coordinator for Melbourne Water say that the project will serve as a great learning tool for not only students but the community in general.

Dart says, “People often don’t realize that the rubbish they drop in their suburban street ends up right here in our rivers and streams carried by stormwater through our waterways. The Litter Tracker technology shows us this in real time.”

Being a part of Melbourne water, she expresses how the company spends millions of dollars every year to clean litter from the waterways. She trusts that the project will remind everyone how important it is to use bin litter.

As an extended part of the project, teaching resources and classroom materials will also be developed to implement education of school children on the cons of littering and its drastic impacts on the environment.

The Little Trackers Project

The Little Trackers initiative has received complete support from the Victorian Government, identifying it as an opportunity to eliminate the issue of littering. RMIT University’s Aquatic Environmental Stress Research Group (AQUEST) is responsible for leading the initiative.

AQUEST works alongside community groups, schools, industry partners and the government to support clean and healthy waterways across the city.

The group is accredited with the development of unique and innovative methods to prevent pollution of creeks, rivers, and bays.

Identifying the dilapidating condition of Melbourne’s water bodies and the gigantic number of cigarette butts collected in clean-ups, the group understood the need for an educational initiative.

The plastic litter dumped into the waterways entangle the mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish; causing severe injuries and even death by huge numbers.

This litter further breaks down into tiny pieces of microplastic, about 600 million pieces of which make it to the Bay each year.

The toxic chemicals on these butts and microplastics hold potential to spread out and pollute the surrounding water and soil. If swallowed by organisms, they can cause severe health effects.

It’s important to be responsible and do our best to keep pollution away from some places. Tracking little project might be a good way to ensure that litter decreases and we can do our bit to save the environment.

The Little Tracker project has been undertaken in light of such facts and figures. Through the tracking of litter, the project can explain to people how litter from the city too impacts the environment, not only the litter on the beaches.

Even by limiting the litter by a small margin, there will be a drastic improvement in the condition of the waterways.