As we look back on ‘Plastic Free July 2023’, Pipe Management Australia (PMA) are proud to be recognised as part of a CQ University research project to assist local councils to identify and raise awareness of microplastics within the community with the contribution of our Drain Buddy services.
In recent years, the growing concern surrounding microplastics has shed light on the urgent need to protect our waterways. Microplastics are tiny particles, often invisible to the naked eye and pose a significant threat to both our environment and our own well-being.
What is a Drain Buddy?
PMA’s Drain Buddy is a gully pit insert providing protection for stormwater drains. The Drain Buddy is particularly effective in rubbish-prone areas such as shopping centres, beaches, parks, schools, quick-service restaurants and CBDs. As a bespoke solution, the Drain Buddy offers an effective way to stop rubbish from flowing directly into our waterways. It’s sturdy frame that is made from aluminium and recycled plastic or a stainless-steel option for harsher environments. The different filtration mediums allow for capturing of a large variety of waste. The Drain Buddy is adaptable to a wide variety of drain sizes and shapes and will still allow for high filtration flow rates.
The Drain Buddy and CQ University
With more and more microplastics emerging in our oceans, CQ University researchers are working with local government to introduce ‘Drain Buddies’ to ascertain what exactly is being washed down our drains and hopefully make their communities more aware.
CQ University Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC) Research Fellow Dr Angela Capper is using ‘Plastic Free July’ to highlight the projects that CQU is undertaking to reduce the impact of microplastics on the environment.
“CMERC received $50,000 in funding through the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grants – Litter and Marine Debris Clean Up and Prevention – to look at road-based microplastic pollution,” Dr Capper said.
“As part of the project, 18 ‘Drain Buddies’ have been installed across the Rockhampton Regional Council and Livingstone Shire Council areas to capture microplastics associated with road-based plastic pollution.”
What is the Project About?
Dr Capper said the project was about better understanding plastic-based sources of waste, so that methods could be developed at a state, national or global level to avoid, or reduce plastics entering stormwater systems.
“Ultimately, this research should help everyone who manages road or stormwater and supply-associated products, by giving them further insight into what might be entering their stormwater systems,” she said.
Dr Capper said the Drain Buddies for this research had been specially adapted to capture plastic material associated with road-based activities, such as road painting, artificial turf installation and tyre-crumb based coverings at playgrounds.
She said that between October 2021 and December 2022, more than 11kg of litter and 273.89kg of organic material had been collected in the Drain Buddies.
There are 15 Drain Buddies in Rockhampton and three in Yeppoon.
Reviewing The Data
“We now have to process that 273.89kg of organic material and extract microplastics from it to see how much artificial grass, soft-fall cover, road paint and tyre dust are in the samples,” she said.
“There are also two emptying rounds for all 18 Drain Buddies to add to these totals before the end of the project later this year.”
“So, what this will highlight is that the plastic we often don’t think about associated with road-based activities is also going down our drains. Most of the larger litter we collect in Drain Buddies, which are plastic-based, include cigarette butts (microfibres in the butts), plastic food and cigarette wrappings, plastic-coated take-away cups, lids, plastic bottles, plus other smaller items such as confetti and glitter.”
More Than Research
PMA’s Drain Buddy assists in preventing long-term damage to drainage systems and gathering valuable data to aid strategy development in reducing litter presence. There are already thousands of Drain Buddies installed throughout Australia, protecting our waterways as well as helping institutions such as CQ University in developing important research and awareness.
Justin Johansen, CEO of Pipe Management Australia explains how the Drain Buddy is serving local communities.
“The Drain Buddy is a crucial part of PMA’s toolkit for helping local government, businesses and communities reduce litter and keep our stormwater networks, and waterways flowing freely. By providing simple, effective services, PMA is proud to support the guardians of our precious waterways, safeguarding their purity and ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.”Justin Johansen, CEO
To learn more about the Drain Buddy, and how it can deliver positive outcomes in your business, school or Local Government Area, contact PMA. If you are interested in learning more about ‘Plastic Free July’ head to plasticfreejuly.org