Annually, we conduct AUSMAP sampling along the Georges River foreshore to see what areas are the most contaminated with microplastics. What is AUSMAP? It's a national citizen science project called the Australian Microplastic Assessment Project.
This year we sampled at 11 sites, during freezing and windy weather, and will send the results to AUSMAP to include in their hotspot map. This data will also come in handy as it will feed into the Litter Prevention Strategy that Georges Riverkeeper is undertaking with Member Councils in the catchment.
The data may also help to shed light on the actual impact of up-coming plastic bans. We're counting down the days to the 1 November, 2022, polystyrene ban on food service items such as clamshells, cups, plates and bowls, as well as the ban on single-use plastic straws, stirrers, swizzle sticks, cutlery, including forks, spoons, knives, sporks, splayds, chopsticks, and food picks - which we see littering the river and its banks. The Environmental Protection Authority is also planning to reign in plastic pellet leakage from plastic manufacturers, so we're interested to benchmark microplastics now so we can see if these actions improve the litter problem.
Take a quick look at these photos to see how bad the litter currently is! Now, look more closely. See all the tiny microplastics?
Robert Dixon from Georges Riverkeeper explains how to conduct a microplastic pollution survey.