More than 67,000 Kiwis take part in New Zealand’s largest clean up event

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

Iconic Kiwi charity Keep New Zealand Beautiful (KNZB) is excited to announce the impact made during Clean Up Week 2023.

Clean Up Week, which is New Zealand’s largest movement against litter, ran from 16 to 22 September. The annual initiative has been running for many decades and has grown to mobilise tens of thousands of Kiwis to get out in their local community, collect litter and make a difference.

This year the organisation had over 67,200 volunteers register to take part in 627 clean up events across Aotearoa. Volunteers collected a total of 652 tonnes of waste over an area equivalent to 5,728 rugby fields.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson says, “This year we’ve coordinated the largest number of Clean Up Week events ever on record with a 35% increase compared to events held in 2022. Every year we’re amazed by the huge effort Clean Up Week volunteers make across the country. Removing 652 tonnes of waste from our environment is something to be very proud of.”

“Findings from our 2022 National Litter Audit have highlighted that the count, weight and estimated volume of litter across New Zealand is increasing nationally, and that’s why events like this are so important. Clean Up Week provides an opportunity for everyday Kiwis to make a difference in their local neighbourhood. Collectively, we have made a huge impact.”

“Inspiring our tamariki to Do the Right Thing is at the core of what we do, so seeing so many young New Zealanders involved in Clean Up Week is very rewarding. Clean Up Week is one of the many free environmental education programmes that we offer alongside others such as Eco-Schools, Climate Ready Classrooms, Young Reporters for the Environment and our Upstream and Backyard Battle citizen science programmes.”

Whilst schools and early childhood centres (ECEs) made up the majority of this year’s clean up crews, businesses, community and youth groups, families and individuals also took part in events up and down the country.

Rachael Nunn from the Port of Tauranga says, “we had a fantastic event during Clean Up Week, getting out in our community and doing our bit to keep our precious environment tidy. This is our second year of what will now be an annual event on our calendar – a great way for us to all get out moving and spend time together. The kids especially love it, and the afternoon fosters an amazing sense of togetherness.”

F.O.R.C.E (For Our Real Clean Environment), a community group in Whangārei removed an astounding 1,870 kilograms of rubbish from around Fairburn and Tauroa Street in the Northland city. In the four truckloads of waste removed, items included dumped recycling, mattresses, bed frames, tyres and wheel rims.

From event evaluation forms pieces of plastic, bottles, food wrappers, packaging, aluminum drink cans and cigarette butts/vapes were listed among the most common items found, as well as the illegal dumping of tyres and household waste.

Ms Saunderson says 30% of Clean Up Week Event Coordinators reported illegal dumping at their event site, which highlights the scale of the illegal dumping problem in New Zealand.

“Illegal dumping continues to pose a huge problem in Aotearoa and we’re exciting to be working with the Ministry for the Environment on further research into the causes and reporting of illegal dumping as well as a targeted behaviour change campaign in early 2024.”

For the second year in a row Clean Up Week kicked off on World Clean Up Day, a global movement uniting 195 countries around the world to tackle the global waste problem and build a sustainable world.

“We’re proud to be Aotearoa’s primary partner for World Clean Up Day and it’s 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,” says Ms Saunderson.

 Clean Up Week is supported in partnership with Waste Management, Enviro NZ 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 some groups (including ECEs, schools, youth groups, Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s Community and Educational branches, Individual/Family and Not-for-Profit members) who didn’t have access to their own clean up materials and who hadn’t requested a kit before.

Clean Up Week will be back on Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s calendar next year, kicking off once again on World Clean Up which is 20 September 2024.

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