Trapping plastic at Defence sites in Sydney Harbour

By Jackson Graham

Monday January 17, 2022

Melissa Price-Peter Dutton
Defence industries minister Melissa Price. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

Technology to remove pollution from Sydney Harbour will become a permanent feature of Department of Defence sites, after a promising trial. 

Defence participated in a year-long test using Seabin Smart Technology, which removed 2920 kilograms of plastic, fuels and detergents from the harbour. 

Now the department will maintain three permanent sites at Garden Island, home to the traditional centre of naval activity. 

The project uses litter traps – similar to a pool skimmer combined with a garbage bin – that offer ways to weigh and keep track of pollution and assess its impact on the environment. 

Defence industry minister Melissa Price said the department’s trial had exceeded expectations. 

“Over a two-week period, the sea bins captured 6198 items of waste from Sydney Harbour, including 3500 microfibres and microplastics, and 2000 unidentifiable pieces of plastic waste,” Price said.

“This is Australian technology which costs as little as $1 a day to run and which can have huge dividends for the environment.”

The trial collected nearly 2000 microfibres stemming from plastic pieces of rope; more than 1700 microplastics, including pellets and nurdles; and as well as hundreds of foam pieces and other plastic pieces. 

Environment minister Sussan Ley said waste and recycling was a national priority and the trial, involving Defence and industry partner Veolia Environmental Services, was an example of the government’s commitment to tackling waste and recycling.

“We can’t keep putting plastic in our oceans and it starts by getting our waste into the recycling bin, where it belongs,” Ley said.


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