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 over 200 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.
Litter Intelligence data have appeared in Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Voluntary National Review of the Sustainable Development Goals (July 2019), Ministry for the Environment / Stats NZ Our Marine Environment (Oct 2019), Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor’s Rethinking Plastics (Dec 2019), and MfE’s Reducing the impact of plastic on our environment (Aug 2020).
We are looking for participants in New Zealand and around the world who want to set up the Litter Intelligence programme in their own region and/or country. Ideally, you'll have a group of 3-12 people available to commit to four surveys per year at a beach close to you and your heart. Click the button below to get involved. For those who have received our official training, head to app.litterintelligence.org to input your data.
We require further funding and collaboration from corporate partners and generous donors to ensure the programme’s ongoing success. There are numerous benefits for an organisation to be part of this critical work, and your financial contribution will enable us to provide further training opportunities and establish additional survey areas.
You’ll have the opportunity to engage your staff and/or community to do your own litter data collection with the support of the Sustainable Coastlines team, and use the data for sustainability reports and communications. We simply ask that you and your team commit to being trained in the methodology (it’s super fun and easy), and to conduct your own litter survey every three months, for a minimum of three years. For more info please contact Steph Vercoe email@example.com
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.