Data Governance.

As part of our commitment to Quality Assurance and Quality Control, Sustainable Coastlines established a Data and Methodology Governance Group that meets regularly to discuss any changes required to improve the quality of the data that are collected. To ensure transparency around decisions made to modify the methodology and any supporting documents, the minutes from all Data and Methodology Governance Group meetings are published below, along with a summary of all changes made.


Summary of Changes

Below is a cumulative list of decisions of the Litter Intelligence Data Governance Group.

May 2024 Decisions

Keywords changes:


Keywords added:

  • Bottles, drums, jerrycan, and buckets < 2L: Bucket handles
  • Fishing gear: Flasher rig packaging
  • Food containers: Food bag handles
  • Food wrappers: Gladwrap, cling wrap
  • Gardening & farming related: line trimmer, weed eater, line, fencing, waratah caps
  • Hangers & retail packaging: hanger, receipt reel
  • Plastic bags: post bags, courier bags
  • Plastic vehicle parts: car, vehicle parts
  • Safety & construction related: vinyl, lino flooring
  • Strapping bands & tape: tape
  • Toys, Sports & Recreation (Plastic): plastic plants, camping, ribbon
  • Other Plastic (specify): bank card, eftpos

Keyword removed:

  • Other Plastic (specify): flasher rig packaging

Foamed Plastic:

Keywords added:

  • Foam sponge: Sponge
  • Other Foamed Plastic (specify): expanding foam, mattress 

Fabric and Textiles:

Keywords added:

  • Backpacks & bags: Fabric
  • Canvas, sailcloth & sacking (hessian): Fabric
  • Carpet & furnishing: Fabric
  • Clothing, towels and linen: Fabric
  • Other Cloth:soft toys, fabric
  • Unidentifiable Cloth Fragments: Fabric

Glass & ceramic:

Keywords added:

  • Construction material: Tile


Keywords added:

  • Other cans & containers (<= 4L): nitrous, canister, inhaler, nangs
  • Construction material: wiring, spanner
  • Other Metal (specify): Hanger

Paper & cardboard:

Keywords added:

  • Cups, food trays & wrappers: paper straw, lollypop stick (paper), lollipop stick (paper), wrapper


Keywords added:

  • Inner-tubes and rubber sheet: Tubing
  • Rubber footwear: Gumboots
  • Construction & Automotive: Tubing
  • Other Rubber (specify): Plug


Keywords added:

  • Appliances & electronics: Electronics
  • Paraffin or wax: Candle, crayon
  • Personal care items: headband, fake fingernails
  • Sanitary items: wipe, wipes, band aid, bandaid, band-aid, wet wipes


April 2022 Decisions

Keywords changes: 


  • Removed ‘bubble wrap’ and ‘shrink wrap’ from PL07.02 Unidentifiable Soft Plastics and added to PL16 Plastic Sheeting

Fabric & Textiles:

  • Other Cloth CL06: ‘rags’ removed
  • Unidentifiable Cloth Fragments CL06.01: ‘unidentifiable cloth fragment’ added

Paper & Cardboard:

  • Tetrapaks PC03.01: ‘carton’, ‘flavoured milk’, and ‘juice’ added


  • Sanitary Items OT02: ‘condom’ and ‘condoms’ added


Category changes:

  • Condoms RB07 was removed


October 2021 Decisions

New Keywords:


  • Unidentifiable Hard Plastic Fragments PL24.01: “melted plastic”, “burnt plastic” were added
  • Other Plastic (specify) PL24: “cap brim”, “dish brush”, “scrubbing brush” were added
  •  “cigarette packet wrap” was moved from PL07.02: Unidentifiable soft plastic fragments to PL24: Other Plastic (specify)

Paper & Cardboard

  • Other Paper & Cardboard (specify) PC05: “sandpaper” was added

Category name change:

  • Toys, Sport, & Recreation PL08 was changed to: ​​Toys, Sport, & Recreation (Plastic)
  • Toys, Sport, & Recreation FP05.04 was changed to: Toys, Sports & Recreation (Foamed Plastic)
  • Sports & Recreation RB01 was changed to:Toys, Sports & Recreation (Rubber)


June 2021 Decisions

New added words for

Plastic - under category:

  • Bacterial habitat wheels: caldines, kaldnes, bio balls, sewage
  • Baskets, crates & trays: pallet, bread
  • Category Bottle caps & lids: cork
  • Food wrappers: tea bags
  • Gardening & farming related: dust pan, dustpan
  • Cosmetics and medical packaging:shampoo, bottle, conditioner, sunblock sunscreen sun block, sun screen, cream, lotion, toothpaste tube
  • Safety & construction related: dust pan, dustpan, builder's bog
  • Other Plastic (specify): Use this category for Roll Your Own Cigarette Packaging - keyword here and see how much we find. 

Metal - under category:

  • Other Metal (specify): twist tie

Paper & Cardboard - under category:

  • Cups, food trays & wrappers: tea bag
  • Other Paper & Cardboard (specify): toilet roll

Wood - under category:

  • Processed timber & pallet crates: MDF, custom wood, cork tile

Discussion on where plastic cigarette packaging should go? Hangers & retail packaging or Unidentifiable soft plastic fragments: DGG agree that it should go in Other Plastic for now and consult with BTK

Discussion about items being in two categories (e.g. tea bags, dust pan): Accepted as long as there is clarity/transparency on the items listed under each category for environmental reporting purposes.


January 2021 Decisions

New Keywords

  • Container door security seal to Plastic: Cable ties & zip ties
  • Tea Bags to Plastic: Food wrappers
  • Bristles, broom, brush to Plastic: Gardening & farming related
  • Bristles, broom, brush to Plastic: Safety & construction related
  • Corflute, signage, sign, property sign to Plastic: Other Plastic
  • Dacron to Fabric & Textiles: Unidentifiable Cloth Fragments
  • AAA, C, D to Other: Batteries (Household)
  • Baby dummy, pacifier, dummy to Other: Personal Care Items


September 2020 Decisions

New Keywords:

  • Add UNEP codes as keywords to each category.
  • Snifters, burley pots, berley pots to Plastic: Fishing Gear
  • Plastic fish, soy sauce packets, condiment packets to Plastic: Food Containers
  • Esophagus clip, oesophagus clip, bolus, drench capsule, capsules to Plastic: Gardening & Farming Related
  • Glue sticks, binders, folders, laminating sheets, clips, vivids to Plastic: Pens & Stationery (renamed category from Plastic: Pens)
  • Baleage wrap, haylage wrap to Plastic: Plastic Sheeting
  • Plastic chopsticks to Plastic: Utensils
  • Vinyl to Cloth: Other Cloth

Removed Keywords

  • Foamed Plastic: Unidentifiable Foamed Plastic Fragment: remove blue foamed squared, blue foam square, green foamed squares, green foam squares, nerf gun bullet, pool noodles, surf board, toy, boogie board

Renamed Category

  • Plastic: Pens renamed to Pens & Stationery 

New Categories

  • Foamed Plastic: Foam glazier spacer, with keywords of blue foamed squares, blue foam square, green foamed squares, green foam squares
  • Foamed Plastic: Toys, Sport & Recreation, with keywords of nerf gun bullet, nerf bullets, pool noodles, camping mats, yoga mats, balls, surf board, toy, boogie board, body board,

Note that Plastic: Glow sticks was proposed as a category but not accepted due to low incidence of Plastic: Fishing Gear appearing in database.


July 2020 Decisions

Update to Resin Pellet Classification

Summary of Changes to Data Categories & Keywords:

Renamed Material Class:

  • Cloth renamed to Fabric & Textiles

New Categories:

  • Plastic: Bacterial habitat wheels
  • Plastic: Hangers & retail packaging, with keywords of retail packets, coat hangers, barcodes, tags, RFID, hooks, labels, silica pouches, gel sachet
  • Rubber: Construction & Automotive, with keywords of plumbing, seals, washers, sealants, o-rings
  • Paper & Cardboard: Tetrapaks

Renamed categories:

  • Plastic: Medical waste renamed to Cosmetics and medical packaging
  • Cloth: Clothing, hats, gloves & towels renamed to Clothing, towels and linen
  • Metal: Other cans (<= 4 L) renamed to Other cans & containers (<= 4L)
  • Rubber: Balloons, tennis balls, footballs, dog toys etc renamed to Sports & Recreation 

New Keywords:

  • Nozzles, tops to Plastic: Bottle caps & lids
  • Fruit sticker to Plastic: Food Wrappers
  • Plant label, weed matting, vine ties, tubes to Plastic: Gardening & farming related
  • retail packets, coat hangers, barcodes, tags, RFID, hooks, labels, silica pouches, gel sachet to Plastic: Hangers & retail packaging (new category)
  • Chapstick to Plastic: Cosmetics and medical packaging (renamed category)
  • Fruit, Elasticated Mesh to Plastic: Mesh Bags
  • Wristbands to Plastic: Parking tickets & receipts
  • Sacks to Plastic: Plastic sheeting
  • Bike Parts, Bicycle parts to Plastic: Plastic vehicle parts
  • Sea wall matting, geotextile fabric, curtain hooks, tile spacers, sealant tubes, caulking, PVC, broom bristles, tubes to Plastic: Safety & construction related
  • Figurine, fake flowers, beads, garland, fake leaves, wreath, lei, legos, tinsel, decorations to Plastic: Toys, Sport & Recreation
  • Paint chips, casters, wheels to Plastic: Other Plastic
  • Earplugs to Foamed Plastic: Earplugs
  • Styrofoam to to Foamed Plastic: Polystyrene Cups or Food Packs
  • Foam sock, sleeve, foam netting, wine sleeve to Foamed Plastic: Polystyrene insulation or packaging
  • Packaging, tubing, handle grip, insulation, toy, boogie board, surf board, flasher rig packaging to Foamed Plastic: Other Foamed Plastic
  • Sacks to Cloth: Canvas, sailcloth & sacking
  • Undies, underwear, panties, pants, jersey, polyester, polypropylene, buttons, clips, buckles, cotton reel to Cloth: Clothing, towels & linen (renamed category)
  • Clothing, hats, gloves, towels to Cloth: Clothing, towels and linen
  • Wool to Cloth: Rope, line or string
  • Leather, dog collars, velcro to Cloth: Other Cloth
  • Polyester stuffing, sea fluff, tennis ball fuzz, rags to Cloth: Unidentifiable Cloth Fragments
  • Concrete, asphalt to Glass: Construction material
  • Terracotta, pottery to Glass: Glass or ceramic fragments
  • Split ring, pliers, knife, knives to Metal: Fishing related
  • Spark plug to Metal: Metal vehicle parts
  • Tubes, Ointment tube to Other cans & containers (<= 4 L) (renamed category)
  • Rivet, bearing, tools to Metal: Construction material
  • Toys, figurine, stationary items, key ring, key, ring, jewellery, jewelry, button, watch, thumbtack, drawing pin, push pin to Metal: Other Metal
  • Napkin, serviette, rolling papers, zigzags, zig zag to Paper & Cardboard: Cups, food trays & wrappers
  • Fireworks, Fire works to Paper & Cardboard: Fireworks
  • Swim cap, swimcap, neoprene, wetsuit, goggles, dive mask, fins, flippers, snorkel, balloons, tennis balls, footballs, dog toys, strap to Rubber: Sports & Recreation (renamed category)
  • Plumbing, seals, washers, sealants, o-rings to Rubber: Construction & Automotive (new category)
  • Tip, walking stick foot, chair leg foot, glide, crutch to Rubber: Other Rubber
  • Wine Corks to Wood: Corks
  • Cork Floats to Wood: Fishing traps and pots
  • Particle board, construction, fence post, tanalised to Wood: Processed timber & pallet crates
  • Chop sticks, chopsticks to Wood: Wooden utensils
  • Toys, furniture to Wood: Other Wood
  • Plus, Electric cords to Other: Appliances & electronics
  • Nail file, emery board, hair clip, hair pin, bobby pin to Other: Personal care items
  • Face masks, tissues, toilet paper, tp, napkins, liners, pads, catheter bag to Other: Sanitary items
  • Chalk to Other: Other

Other decisions:

  • Remove “excludes syringes” from Cosmetics and medical packaging because it offers this as a suggestion when someone types “syringes.”
  • Remove Rags from Other Cloth and keyword to Unidentifiable Cloth Fragments
  • Remove rubber & silicone sealant from Unidentifiable Rubber Fragments (and add to Construction & Automotive)


March 2020 Decisions

New & Moved Categories: 

  • New category: “Cotton Buds” under Sanitary Items OT02.01; adjust keywords appropriately and remove “cotton buds” from Lollipops.
  • New category: “Gum” as “Rubber Other” - remove from keyword in “Rubber: Other”

Renamed Categories & Keywords: 

  • “Toys & Sports” renamed to “Toys, Sport, & Recreation”
  • “Cardboard boxes & fragments” renamed to “Cardboard Boxes”
  • “Paper” renamed to “Paper, newspapers & paper receipts”
  • Adjust Batteries (Non-Household) code in Backend: From OT05.01 to OT04.01

New keywords added (refer to document)

  • “Plastic Pencil” as keyword for “Pen”
  • “Pencil” as keyword for “Other Wood”
  • Every material class to include “unidentifiable fragment” and “other” categories for each material class with keyword of “unidentifiable [material category]” and “fragment” keyworded to each.
  • New category of “Unidentifiable Cloth Fragments;” “Miscellaneous Cloth Fragments” changed to “Other Cloth” with the keyword “Rags.”


December 2019 Decisions

Category & Keyword Review:

  • New Category of Unidentifiable Soft Plastics PL07.02 (separate from Food Wrappers)
  • Plastic Cigarette Packets - to move to soft plastic fragments from cigarette butts (would also include bubble wrap, shrink wrap)
  • Rename “Safety Related” to “Construction and Safety Related” and add caution tape as keyword
  • Include “pipe” as keyword in both “gardening" and “construction and safety related”
  • Rename Toothbrush category to "Personal Care Items" and include the following keywords "hair ties, hair brush, hairbrush, hair brushes, hairbrushes, combs, toothbrushes".
  • Rename “Strapping Bands” to “Strapping Bands & Tape”
  • Rename “Toys, balls & party poppers” to “Toys & sports related”
  • Rename “Other Cloth (including rags)” to “Miscellaneous cloth fragments”
  • Rename “Wire, wire mesh & barbed wire” to Construction material”
  • Remove “Float” as keyword from “Fishing Gear” (and add to “plastic buoys”)
  • In Plastic Sheeting: spelling of “pallet” instead of “palette”.
  • Keywords added as noted in Appendix A, column K. New or renamed categories are noted in Column L. Additional changes noted in Column M.

Minimum number of items & shortening/extending survey areas:

Prefer extension over creating new areas. It’s ok to record a survey with less than 10 items. If less than 10 items are found, and you can extend to 300m, do so. If you cannot extend to 300m, do not extend at all. 

  • This decision confirmed at March 2020 Meeting.


Use 4.75mm sieves instead of 5mm


September 2019 Decisions

5.1 Methodology Clarifications:

How to pick high tide mark

  • Decision: use the “most apparent high tide mark” rather than “most recent high tide mark”.
  • Rationale: The most apparent high tide mark is a simpler and more consistent instruction to give Citizen Scientists direction on where to start.

Back of the beach/Defining the survey area width. Group is in agreement that the tide line is the consistent point.

  • Decision: if one end of the survey area is narrower than the other, reduce to the narrower area at both ends, so that distance above high.
  • Rationale: Consistency is key, so keeping the same distance above high tide at the start and end of the survey area, and below high tide at the start and end of the survey area, helps with this.

If less than 10 items found

  • Decision: Pending Emma/Shane conversation
  • Rationale: David notes that “recording zeros would be helpful because it would show that it was looked for and not found. So that is evidence; that is in parallel with biodiversity measures that notes the ‘presence of absence.’”

All recording null entries/zeros in database is important. SC to include all litter categories in data export. Those that were not present, record with ‘zeros’ against weight and item count.

What would be the implications of the data in the set already that are longer than 100m? Different length of sites will be challenging to directly compare at a finer scale. If there is no rubbish in first 100m survey area, SC can recommend to Citizen Scientists the option to set up an additional survey area, if they wish, but keep the first one with zeros recorded. This is up to Citizen Scientists and their available time to invest. Emma to confirm with Shane if we can remove the minimum 10 litter item from the methodology.

Do sites that were measured at over 100m long continue to be
measured at the size initially measured? David -- We need clarity in the reporting of the size of the survey areas. Keep exceptions to a minimum. Having geo-location is crucial. If we want to measure flux the same transect size is a good idea. 

Emma to confirm best steps forward on existing sites over 100m with Shane.