In News, Partners

New bins installed thanks to data collection project

New cigarette bins and signage have been installed in venues at Proserpine and Airlie Beach to help curb the amount of cigarette butts entering local waterways and the Great Barrier Reef.

Data collected through the Whitsunday Gross Pollutant Trap Project has identified the ‘Top 10’ litter items found in the wider Whitsunday region – and the number 1 culprit is cigarette butts.

A range of proactive solutions have been implemented on the back of the findings to reduce debris and rubbish from ending up in our waterways, with the help of popular local venues Magnums (Airlie Beach) and Prince of Wales (Proserpine).

The Partnership approached local venues near key drain sites identified as part of the project and has worked with them to install 22 special cigarette butt bins in designated smoking areas.

Working closely with Tangaroa Blue Foundation, the butt bins and educational signage support the wider ‘Ditch the Flick’ campaign.

Magnums Venue Manager Rebecca Cook said they were more than happy to be on board with the initiative.

“A lot of our customers at Magnums are visitors to the region, who are drawn here by the beauty of our local area and of course the Great Barrier Reef, so we want to look after it in any way we can,” Ms Cook said.

“We did have smaller bins in place before, but with these larger bins and the ‘Ditch the Flick’ signage, I can see already that these are making a difference in keeping the area clean.”

Tangaroa Blue CEO Heidi Tait, Healthy Rivers to Reef Chair Charlie Morgan, and Magnums Venue Manager Rebecca Cook standing next to a cigarette butt bin.
Tangaroa Blue CEO Heidi Tait, Healthy Rivers to Reef Chair Charlie Morgan, and Magnums Venue Manager Rebecca Cook.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation CEO Heidi Tait said that with the success of cigarette butt bins in other locations along the Great Barrier Reef through the ReefClean project, she was excited to see them rolled out in the Whitsunday region.

“Educating and empowering individuals to take action is a really important part of reducing the amount of litter and debris polluting our environment,” she said.

“The cigarette butt bins installed here, and Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s wider ‘Ditch the Flick’ campaign is an excellent example of this, as it aims to educate people about cigarette butt litter and encourages smokers to bin their cigarette butts.

“By combining education and convenient, practical solutions, campaigns like this can help tackle the issue of marine debris and really make a difference.”

The venues’ involvement builds on important findings from the first intensive audit phase of the project, which saw 15 stormwater drain traps installed across the Whitsundays. The contents of the traps were sorted and counted throughout 2022 and early 2023 by Partnership staff, Tangaroa Blue Foundation and volunteers. The data collected was entered into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database.

Two people standing next to a cigarette butt bin.
Healthy Rivers to Reef Project Officer Cinzia Cattaneo and Prince of Wales Manager Russell Hutchinson with the newly installed cigarette butt bins.
Copies of the 2022 Report Card next to a cigarette butt bin.
Keep an eye out for the cigarette butt bins installed at Magnums Airlie Beach and Prince of Wales in Proserpine.
  • 15 litter traps were installed across the Whitsundays in late 2021.
  • Trap contents were collected and sorted every eight weeks, over 18 months, with the help of volunteers.
  • The most common item found was cigarette butts – with 7,126 counted.
  • Plastic film remnants were the second most common item (1,169 items) followed by toys and festive items including glitter (1,029 items).
  • The findings have supported the installation of 22 butt bins at two high priority venues in Airlie Beach and Proserpine.

The Whitsunday Gross Pollutant Trap Project received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. ReefClean is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation.