December 10, 2023 - January 20, 2024: Issue 609


Pittwater's environment: the good, bad, ugly of 2023

Baby Ringtail. Photo: Stop Wildlife Roadkill Group

the good

As in previous years the thousands of hours given by volunteers as part of bushcare sites remains. Council states Bush regeneration works continued in over 260 sites, including planting 19,900 local native plants and over 2,800 trees. Almost 26 thousand hours were given in bush care in Pittwater alone.

The total budget spent on bushland management activities in 2022/23 was $4,018,486. This excludes further bushland management which is undertaken as part of separate grant related works including part of the NSW Governments Save our Species program and Crown Reserves Improvement fund.

A further $247,000 was spent of bushland management activities conducted with coastal sand dune areas across the LGA.

Council's 2022-2023 Annual Report 'Major Contracts lists some of these projects in bush regeneration or others in environmentally sensitive areas (al figures ex-GST):

  • Apunga; Burnt Bridge Creek bushland restoration contract - $208,000.00
  • Australian Bushland Restoration Pty Ltd; Ingleside Chase bushland restoration - $182,000.00
  • Australian Bushland Restoration Pty Ltd; Attunga Nareen bushland restoration - $212,000.00
  • Australian Bushland Restoration Pty Ltd; Narrabeen Elanora bushland restoration - $225,200.00
  • Australian Bushland Restoration Pty Ltd; Jamieson Park bush regeneration and hazard reduction - $269,600.00
  • Azbuild Pty Ltd; Snapperman Beach Reserve seawall reconstruction works - $362,100.00
  • CC Pines Pty Ltd; Design and construction of Morgan and Oxford Falls Road Bridge -$367,592.00
  • Civotek Pty Ltd; Proposed stormwater improvement works, Park Street & Pittwater Road - $393,085.00
  • Haskoning Australia  Pty Ltd; Mona Vale Beach outlets upgrade - $198,125.00
  • Complete Urban Pty Ltd; Design service for Frenches Forest Town Centre Park upgrade - $465,272
  • Dragonfly Environmental; Forestville & Killarney area contract - $274,500.00
  • Green Options; Turf wicket and sports field maintenance - $2,633,880.00
  • Kelbon Project Services Pty Ltd; New footpath - Crescent Road, Newport – stage 1 and 2- $264,960.00
  • National Trust Of Australia (NSW); Minor reserves and powerful owl project - $162,000.00
  • Ozpave (AUST) Pty Ltd; New footpath – Annam Road, Bayview - $150,312.00
  • REES Electrical Pty Ltd; Kitchener Park lighting renewal - $376,000.00
  • Specialised Pavement Services Pty Ltd Street sweeping in former Pittwater $429,821.00
  • Skyline Landscape Solutions Parks and reserves mowing services $1,026,000.00
  • Image Property Detailing Parks and reserves mowing services $1,630,361.00
  • Marsupial Landscapes Pty Ltd Parks and reserves mowing services $1,380,000.00
  • Standby Forty-Six Pty Ltd Parks and reserves mowing services $1,085,350.00
  • Steelworks Engineering Pty Ltd Design and construct of Fern Creek pedestrian bridge $618,310.00
  • Terroir Pty Ltd Manly Life Saving Club and precinct redevelopment project – architect appointment $2,366,149.00
  • Toolijooa Pty Ltd: Deep Creek area reserves project $182,000.00
  • Turf Drain Australia; Kitchener Park, Frank Gray Oval, Mike Pawley Oval design and construct drainage systems $373,905.00
  • Waratah Eco Works; Seaforth Balgowlah Heights bushland restoration project $244,228.00

Another Good happening this year has been running a series of 'Ringtail Posses' each month, with a few to come. With over 5000 wildlife species rescued and rehabilitated by local trained people from Sydney Wildlife Care and WIRES annually, and the heartbreak that comes with the loss of these other residents, sharing how much so few do for so many each year has brought some new understanding about how we can all look after our local wildlife a little better and support those whop dedicate their time 24/7, along with large chunks of their hard earned dollars, to save our wildlife.

The name comes from the fact that the 'common' ringtail possum is not so common anymore in our area - thousands of these are lost each year as people cut down their home nesting trees or they are attacked by peoples pets; their cats and dogs. The 'posse' element is a group of friends or people with some common interest - which, as it turns out, would be 99% of us if feedback so far is anything to go by.

There is a problem with the lost of food for natives locally as well - wildlife carers have stated that this past Spring many of the animals coming into care were starving as they had not been able to get enough to eat. We all need to plant more native species for food and habitat.

We all need to slow down on local roads as well - every single day wildlife is being struck by people going too fast in back streets and even in areas where there is signage and slower speeds to limit the loss of mums carrying bubs across the road.

Carers are also asking that we all put in a submission to the Wakehurst Parkway changes mooted calling for wildlife to be taken into account as this is a wildlife corridor long before a road was put through their homes. See: Wakehurst Parkway Upgrade: Please Speak Up For Local Wildlife In Your Feedback - Submissions now Close December 20

When it is hot, as it is forecast to be this Summer, carers ask that we put out water bowls on the ground under trees or up higher, with twigs or stones for wildlife to be able to get in and out, and to keep our pets on leash when out and about as wildlife will come down closer to the ground to cool off during hot spells.

Those run so far are listed below.

Ringtail Posses 2023

The Bad

Leaving Fishing Gear on the shore

Residents continue to call for help to catch local seabirds and estuary birds impaled with fishing hooks or tangled up in fishing line. Despite the launch of Rig Recycle this year, visitors, or residents, are still leaving hooks and line where these species live. Another killer of local aquatic species are the bait bags discarded in the environment after use. 

Rig Recycle was developed and trialled as part of Tangaroa Blue Foundation's ReefClean program, removing and preventing marine debris and litter impacting the Great Barrier Reef. 

The aim is to divert specified recreational fishing items and packaging accessories from becoming litter in the environment or being disposed of in landfill by changing the recycling behaviours of consumers and retailers.

The Rig Recycle program is an Australian-first program that collects selected recreational fishing and packaging items and diverts them from landfill through an innovative repair, reuse and recycle framework. The project connects recreational fishers, community clean-up participants, recreational fishing retailers and suppliers, social enterprises and community partners in a holistic and truly circular program that fills a current recycling gap. 

The NSW launch took place as part of the Volvo Ocean Lovers Festival at Bondi, March 15-19, 2023 with Heidi Tait from Tangaroa Blue Foundation taking part in the Ocean Plastic Action Forum on March 15, speaking about the initiative and the work of the Foundation. The Ocean Plastic Action Forum was a one-day special event filled with interactive panel discussions providing valuable insights into the impact of ocean plastic pollution, delving into the science and issues surrounding ocean plastic, exploring current innovation and reviewing future solutions to purge plastic from our ocean.

CEO, Heidi Tait travelled to Bondi to take part in panel discussions at the Ocean Plastic Action Forum. Along with other industry professionals, they discussed the current state of plastics in our oceans and what is currently being done to reduce the impact on our oceans.

This was also a great opportunity to showcase the Rig Recycle bins that are currently rolling out across NSW as part of a NSW Recreational Fishing Trust grant. Heidi is pictured here with Anita and Brad with thanks to them and the organising team for supporting the NSW launch. This is the first version of the Rig Recycle bin - new improved one below. Photo: RigRecycle

How does it work?

  1. Take your recreational fishing items to a Rig Recycle bin near you
  2. The items get collected, audited and entered into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) Database
  3. The items are either repaired for reuse or recycled

What can you put in the bin?

  • Fishing line
  • Plastic line spools (that you buy your line on)
  • Handline spools
  • Hooks - preferably in good condition (not rusty)
  • Sinkers - lead or other, in any condition
  • Swivels - preferably in good condition (not rusty)
  • Lures
  • Floats

What can't go in the bin?

  • Bait packaging, or any other smelly item
  • Soft plastic packaging, recyclability is variable
  • Soft plastic disposable body/tail
  • Rods and reels
  • Life jackets
  • Flares. These should be disposed of appropriately - see your State or Territory guidelines

You can also download the Recycle Mate app, put in your location and the item and it’ll tell you where to recycle it!

Soft plastics scourge

The supermarket-based REDcycle scheme stopped operating in November 2022 after it was revealed that the company was unable to process the mountains of soft plastics it had stored around the country. 

The Environment Protection Authority has since handed out and then withdrawn charges against the company that went insolvent in February. 
In the meantime, most Australians have been left without a way to recycle 70 billion pieces of soft plastic consumed every year.

A Soft Plastics Taskforce comprising Coles, Woolworths, and Aldi was set up in the wake of REDcycle's collapse. It has taken responsibility for the company's roughly 11,000 tonnes of soft plastic across 44 locations Australia-wide. These sites have now been consolidated to 12 in total, almost half of which are in Victoria. 

Around 10,400 tonnes of soft plastic remains in storage, with around four per cent of the original stockpile sent to landfill, according to the taskforce. A total of 120 tonnes has been processed to date.

The taskforce's October update revealed that only Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia have, or are working on, soft plastics recycling facilities. It reports that waste from Tasmania will be transferred to Victoria, NSW will take responsibility for Queensland's waste, and that SA will receive materials from the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Even before the issues with REDcycle, Australia's recycling sector was in crisis with the production of new plastics far outstripping the demand for recycled materials. It is time for government to incentivise businesses to move away from soft plastics by offering things such as tax breaks to those that do.

On June 30 2023 the ACCC announced it has granted conditional authorisation to allow the major supermarkets to continue their collaboration to manage the soft plastics stockpile and resume in-store collections after REDcycle suspended its recycling operations.

The ACCC previously granted conditional interim authorisation to Coles, Woolworths and ALDI in November 2022, which allowed the supermarkets to collaborate via the Soft Plastics Taskforce. A result of this collaboration was the Taskforce’s Roadmap to Restart plan which is an interim plan to restore community access to soft plastics recycling through Australian supermarkets.

“We have granted this final authorisation to allow supermarkets to continue their discussions around the issue of in-store collections, as outlined in the Roadmap to Restart,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

“We believe this conditional authorisation is in the public interest, reflecting public concern about the stockpiling of soft plastics and the need to divert soft plastics from landfill and inform consumers about the resumption of in-store collections.”

“The authorisation has been granted with conditions that ensure there is continued transparency on the progress towards the roadmap and that the public are kept up to date,” Mr Keogh said.

The ACCC may grant an authorisation to companies for any conduct that could raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act when it is satisfied that the likely public benefit from the conduct outweighs any likely public detriment. For this authorisation, the ACCC has decided to specify conditions which relate to the provision of information, progress reporting requirements and the termination of arrangements upon expiry of authorisation. 

“This authorisation is for 12 months and the supermarkets would need to apply for further authorisation for any longer-term solutions that involve collaboration between the supermarkets,” Mr Keogh said.

“The ACCC has also been engaging with industry stakeholders and representative bodies to ensure transparency in communications to minimise the risk of consumers being misled by representations on packaging about the recycling of soft plastics.”

More information is available on the ACCC’s public register. 

REDcycle was an industry-led program developed and implemented by the RG Programs and Services Pty Ltd, a Melbourne-based consultation and recycling organisation. Since 2011, it had been the only return-to-store, soft plastics recovery program in Australia, facilitating the collection and processing of soft plastics into a variety of durable recycled plastic products. Soft plastics include food packaging, plastic bags, cling wrap and bubble wrap.

Product manufacturers and the major supermarkets partnered with REDcycle to run the program. REDcycle provided some initial processing and then delivered the materials to its partner recycling facilities to process the soft plastics into new recycled plastic products, or otherwise utilise the recovered materials.

The scheme had been running in nearly 2000 supermarket outlets across the country, with collection points in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, and more recently since July 2022, in ALDI stores.

On 9 November 2022 REDcycle announced that it was suspending its soft plastics collection program as its recycling partners had temporarily stopped accepting and processing soft plastics. The suspension of the REDcycle program removed the only established and widespread recycling pathway for consumers and created significant concerns about existing stockpiles and how consumers can recycle soft plastics.

Following REDcycle’s announcement, Coles and Woolworths each announced that they would be suspending soft plastics collections from their stores until further notice.

On 25 November 2022, the ACCC granted interim authorisation to the supermarkets.

On 26 February 2023, the supermarkets assumed responsibility for the REDcycle stockpiles.

On 27 February 2023, REDcycle was declared insolvent and a liquidator was appointed.

On 7 March 2023, the Soft Plastics Taskforce, chaired by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, issued a Roadmap to Restart for the resumption of in-store collection. 

On 30 March 2023, the ACCC issued a draft determination proposing to grant authorisation for 12 months.

Council's Soft Plastics Collection Days would not be needed if supermarkets brought back butchers' paper

Council has also tried to mitigate the soft plastics problem residents have, running Soft Plastics collection days at Avalon, Frenchs Forest and Dee Why in June 2023, but with limited amounts and kinds of packaging, and no as yet announced plan to expand this or make it permanent.

The best result here is for everyone to take more responsibility for their own consumption of products that use any kind of plastic packaging and extend Plastic-Free-July to a 12 month ban - which may be hard with youngsters who want lollies and supermarkets that refuse to bring back butchers paper - but could entail shopping locally again at a fruit and veg store in your own neighbourhood and a fishmongers and butchers who will give you back that butchers paper again - which can then be recycled by children for drawing and painting, or for teenagers needing that BIGGER sheet of paper to map out an essay or woodwork project design and steps. 

The ugly

The ugly continues to be the wilful destruction of heritage listed trees (at Palm Beach!) and elsewhere for 'views' or the deliberate destruction of bushcare sites volunteers have spent decades restoring  for mountain bike tracks. Even uglier are the verbal and physical assaults that are threatened or carried out by those against anyone who challenges them.

Residents are expecting the Council and local Police to 'step up' on this. They're fed up with the deliberate destruction, the sound of helicopters and ambulances as another child is airlifted to hospital,  the impact on wildlife, which is literally introducing running over them where they live, in the bush, and the excising of what belongs to everyone for the benefit of a few - and residents have been fed up for years. 

People are hoping those who destroy the bush by building illegal tracks are encouraged to work with bushcarers in pulling out weeds so a track can appear before them where those weeds once were, and plant out species which would make for a much pleasanter ride along tree dappled paths with bush flowered bright colours at the corner of every eye.

The positives of this great sport could lead to positives in the community; 'it just needs to be flipped' one resident states.

There also needs to be some steps taken to provide local facilities for those that love this sport that won't entail killing the bush. 

Mountain Bike Incidents On Public Land: Survey

This survey aims to document mountain bike related incidents on public land, available at:

Sent in by Pittwater resident Academic for future report- study. The survey will run for 12 months and close in November 2024.

In better news around this subject, a Bush area recently destroyed by illegal mountain bike tracks and jumps built at Elanora has been restored this week. Hopefully the rare plants known to have grown here also come back; -

Photo supplied