Keep New Zealand Beautiful sets record year for Clean Up Week impact

Iconic Kiwi charity Keep New Zealand Beautiful (KNZB) is excited to announce the impact made during Clean Up Week 2022.

Clean Up Week, which is New Zealand’s largest movement against litter, ran from 17 to 23 September. The annual initiative has been running for many decades and has grown to mobilise thousands of Kiwis to get out in their local community, collect litter and make a difference.

This year the organisation had over 67,400 volunteers register to take part in 466 clean up events across Aotearoa. Volunteers collected a total of 655 tonnes of waste over an area equivalent to 5,751 rugby fields.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson says, “This is a record year for Clean Up Week, with more volunteers involved and more litter collected than ever before. We’re inspired to see so many Tidy Kiwis getting out there, Doing the Right Thing and making a difference to their local environment.”

“Last year’s Clean Up Week efforts were impacted by Covid-19 restrictions with just over 30,000 volunteers taking part, so it’s been fantastic to see more than double the amount of people involved this year. Litter isn’t just unsightly, it poses a huge threat to our eco-systems and by removing it we’re protecting our environment, our flora and fauna, and stopping it from entering waterways and causing more damage.”

Early Childhood Education Centres (ECEs), schools, community groups and businesses make up the majority of clean up crews involved in the event, with individuals, families, and youth groups also involved.

Events took place up and down the country during the week. In Te Puke 359.5kg of litter was collected by 65 volunteers at an event organised by the community organisation EPIC Te Puke.

EPIC Te Puke Marketing and Promotions Manager Rebecca Larsen says, “We love participating in this event, as it brings many people together and there is a real sense of achievement when you see the results calculated. It’s unfortunate that the haul this year was so large – it’s bittersweet!”

In Riverhead, Auckland approximately 90 volunteers took part in the Riverhead Scout Group clean up event where nearly 100kg of litter was collected. This is the seventh year the Scout group has taken part. And down south in Bluff the Bluff 2024 Urban Rejuvenation Community Group had approximately 80 volunteers who collected over 500kg of waste during the week.

“We have been running this annual street clean up for the last seven or eight years to inspire pride in our town, while at the same time helping our environment,” says Sue Garland from the Bluff 2024 Urban Rejuvenation Community Group.

From event evaluation forms food wrappers, takeaway containers, bottles, cans and cigarette butts were listed among the most common items found, as well as the illegal dumping of tyres, furniture, appliances and household waste.

This year Clean Up Week kicked off on World Clean Up Day, uniting 191 countries around the world in a global movement against litter.

“It’s been great for Clean Up Week to contribute on a global scale to a movement that brings so many people together across the world fighting for the same cause, and we’re proud that KNZB was the lead for World Clean Up Day here in Aotearoa,” says Ms Saunderson.

Clean Up Week is supported in partnership with Waste Management, EnviroWaste and some councils, who allow volunteers to dispose of the rubbish they collect for free at selected transfer stations. With the help of the Mars Wrigley Foundation free clean up kits were available on request for ECEs, schools and youth groups, as well as KNZB’s Branches, Individual/Family and Not-for-Profit Members.

For the first time, this year volunteers had the opportunity to contribute to KNZB’s Citizen Science programmes (Upstream and Backyard Battle) as part of Clean Up Week, and a third of registered events took up the challenge. The programmes allow individuals to collaborate and contribute to the litter solution, while gaining experience in data collection and analysis.

“It’s been great to see volunteers take up the opportunity to gain citizen scientist skills as part of Clean Up Week. The data that is collected through these programmes will be used to provide a secondary dataset to our National Litter Audit,” says Ms Saunderson.

This year KNZB celebrates 55 years of environmental community work, a testament to the organisation’s dedication to protecting Aotearoa’s environment.

Clean Up Week will be back on KNZB’s calendar for 2023 with dates to be confirmed in the new year.

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