Litter is a major risk to the people, culture, environment and economy of Aotearoa, especially when it enters our marine environment. We lack reliable and standardised data to inform better decision-making, and though Kiwis are extremely concerned about the build-up of plastics in the environment, communities lack the capability, opportunity and motivation to engage in environmental monitoring and reporting.
Litter Intelligence is Aotearoa’s first and only national litter monitoring programme, enabling communities to collect data, gain insights and take action to prevent litter. Developed and launched in 2018 in collaboration with Stats NZ, the Department of Conservation and with funding from the Ministry for the Environment, the platform provides open, scientifically rigorous litter data from hundreds of survey sites around the country.
The monitoring methodology uses a localised adaptation of the United Nations Environment Programme / Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission guidelines, and our team trains, equips and supports citizen scientists to conduct quarterly marine litter surveys. These data can be accessed at litterintelligence.org, and are used by regional, national and international agencies for reporting, including for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
To address the litter challenge long-term, we need to influence widespread behaviours around production, consumption and disposal of waste. The Litter Intelligence Education Programme (LIEP) is innovative, holistic, and was designed around best practice behavioural change frameworks. LIEP focuses on teacher professional development, training educators to help students connect with nature, learn about pollution issues, become citizen scientists, and come up with their own real-world actions to solve litter.
The Litter Intelligence programme and its data have appeared in the publications and conferences below. Click here for a full list of media & publications.
Charity Sustainable Coastlines received funding in May 2018 from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund to establish, develop and rollout Litter Intelligence as a nationwide programme. Since establishment, Microsoft, NIWA, Auckland Council and Stormwater 360 have provided additional funding to further develop the technology platform behind Litter Intelligence.