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CQU Clean Up half a jumping castle, underwear and car front bumpers

Published:28 July 2021

CQUni staff and students in Rockhampton participating in Clean Up Australia Day

CQUni staff and students Cleaning Up Rockhampton

Over 80 staff and students across several CQUniversity campuses in Queensland participated in Clean Up Australia Day last week, together collecting over 1 tonne of rubbish.

This year’s events coincided with the Great Northern Clean Up, which is an initiative that provides those living in warmer states with the opportunity to participate in the cooler months.

Deputy Director of the Facilities Management Directorate Wayne Milsom said he finds this initiative very rewarding.

“Clean Up is a very important part of our community engagement,” he said.

“Our interactions with the public during our CQUni Clean Up events validate the community’s recognition of Clean Up Australia’s mission. Local community members are always thankful and the feedback we receive is very positive. 

“It would be great to see a few more CQU hands get involved next year and make it our biggest clean up yet.”

Among the usual pieces of plastic and cigarette butts, there were some unusual items participants did not expect to find, including half a commercial size jumping castle in Mackay, multiple car front bumpers in Brisbane, and underwear and tyres in Rockhampton.

Bundaberg Campus Coordinator Rebecca Ballantyne said while they only had a small team of helpers this year, it still made a huge impact on the bushland at the front of their campus.

“We found a foam mattress, a car battery and rusty barbed wire during our Clean Up,” she said.

“I am always very proud to have our team come together and take the time to make our patch of the world a better place.”

The team in Gladstone were a small but enthusiastic group of 8 staff members. The team collected rubbish (including plastics) from the mangroves behind the Gladstone Marina Campus for a staff member to analyse.

Dr Angela Capper is a Research Fellow at the Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC). Dr Capper is investigating road-based plastic pollution that passes through storm water drains into our coastal ecosystems. She is analysing microplastics in particular, less than 5mm in size.

Once in the marine environment, these microplastics can accumulate in seagrass and mangroves. Microplastic particles and fibres not only attract harmful chemicals, such as heavy metals and pesticides, but can be easily ingested by a range of marine organisms from tiny zooplankton to larger megafauna such as turtles and dugongs.

Participants in Townsville who had previously completed Clean Ups of the same area commented that the area was relatively free from rubbish. While those in Cairns said they were surprised at how much they found once they really started looking.

With the illegal discard of larger and unsafe items becoming more common, teams were encouraged to use Snap Send Solve, which is a free app used by local governments that simplifies the reporting of community issues such as illegal dumping, vandalism and leaking water mains.