Port Waratah’s employees are genuinely committed to their local environment. It’s evident from the enthusiasm they have for voluntary initiatives that connect them with nature.
Conservation Volunteers Australia’s (CVA) annual tree planting challenge and Port Waratah’s Throsby Creek Clean-Up days are just a few such events.
The tree planting challenge is held every year on World Environment Day in the Hunter Wetlands National Park on the eastern border of Port Waratah’s Kooragang Terminal. The site was previously overrun by aggressive weeds such as lantana and pampas grass but over the past two years NSW National Parks & Wildlife and CVA have been rehabilitating the area. Local businesses have been invited to plant as many native trees as they can during the annual challenge, and thousands of acacia, casuarinas and eucalypts find new ground to grow.
‘The weeds are very aggressive so by removing them and planting native vegetation we’re restoring the natural balance of biodiversity that should be there. In years to come when the trees have matured, we hope to see more birds, lizards and frogs make it their home too,’ says Trevor Thompson, Environmental Officer at Port Waratah.
Twice a year Trevor and his colleagues also enthusiastically and voluntarily take part in clean up events on the banks of Throsby Creek in Carrington. The entire event is organised by Port Waratah and an open invitation is sent to neighbours and the community to join in. Employees and other volunteers remove rubbish from around the foreshore and mangrove area, and Port Waratah ensures that all of the rubbish is disposed of appropriately.
‘Throsby Creek has a very large urban catchment. It’s a massive area that all filters down into the mangroves at Carrington. There are a few pollution traps around Islington, but quite a lot of that still gets through and ends up in the mangroves,’ says Mr Thompson.
‘Everyone’s really surprised at just how much we collect. There’s a lot of plastics, bottles, straws, and cigarette butts. In our most recent event last October we collected around 150kg of rubbish. It takes a lot of that kind of waste to weigh that much.
‘We’ve found things like clothes, furniture, shopping trolleys, air-conditioning units, and even old tyres. We separate the landfill waste and the recyclable waste but unfortunately a lot of it can’t be recycled.
Port Waratah has also started to share the data from the clean-ups with the Australian Marine Debris Initiative who then use it to develop targeted programs and protect the foreshore’s environmental future.