That’s why Hutt City Council is currently running a series of trials where nets and traps are placed in the city’s stormwater drains to collect the cigarette butts, drink bottles, and chippie packets that people discard.
Through the trials rubbish is being collected and counted by WelTec engineering students at their campus in Petone. The information from the surveys will be used to inform a possible wider roll-out of a product which can be installed efficiently and effectively in the more than 10,000 drains situated across Lower Hutt.
The stormwater rubbish collection trial runs through until at least the middle of next year. Traps and nets have been installed at a number of sites including Seaview, along Jackson Street and also in Seddon Street Naenae.
“We are running trials of different types of debris traps in sumps and in large stormwater pipes before they discharge to the rivers,” says Hutt City Council Sustainability and Resilience Manager Jörn Scherzer.
“We have a large catchment net on trial developed by New Zealand company Duraflex Distribution. It covers a big stormwater pipe running through the north end of Fraser Park. It takes water from Taita commercial, residential and light industry. It catches a lot of litter especially following large rain events. We get balls, dolls, polystyrene, leaves, cigarette packets and butts, drink bottles, plastic packets and recently a couple of syringes.”
An early prototype of a device developed by Upper Hutt manufacturing company Leda is also being used to stop bottles and cans getting into sumps. “These units, Litta Traps from last year’s trial, and the nets will provide a rich source of information to help inform next steps,” says Jörn.
“Groups like Clean Streets NZ, Plogging in Petone, Petone Beach Clean-up Crew, Friends of Petone Beach and Dive HQ are all working hard to solve the city’s litter issues by cleaning up,” says Hutt City Council Waste Minimisation Advisor Sandy Beath-Croft. “And as a council we spend a lot of time and effort collecting rubbish so it’s important that we invest in solutions to mitigate the problem at source and continue to educate our community about not dropping rubbish into drains.”
The information from the stormwater trial will inform a future report to Council and will be used in litter education programmes.