Defence removes tonnes of waste from Sydney Harbour

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Related ministers and contacts

The Hon Melissa Price MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for Science and Technology

The Hon Sussan Ley

Minister for the Environment

Dave Sharma MP

Member for Wentworth

Media contacts

Ben Spencer (Minister Price’s office): +61 412 754 310
Steve Kuper (Minister Price’s office): +61 421 668 874
John Brady (Minister Ley’s office): +61 427 867 638

Defence Media:

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13 January 2022

Joint media release

  • The Hon Sussan Ley, Minister for the Environment
  • Dave Sharma MP, Member for Wentworth


New Australian technology supported by the Morrison Government is helping to clean Sydney Harbour and show how we can get more plastic and other pollution out of our waterways.

Trials of new Seabin Smart Technology at Sydney Harbour Defence sites have removed 2,920kg of plastic, fuels and detergents from Sydney Harbour in the past 12 months and plans are now underway to expand the technology.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley visited Garden Island today with the Member for Wentworth David Sharma, where the Seabin trial has been removing140kg of waste per week, including one item of plastic every 40 seconds.

Minister for Defence Industry and Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said the Defence trial had exceeded all expectations and that three permanent units would be maintained at Garden Island.

“Over a two-week period, the Seabins captured 6,198 items of waste from Sydney Harbour, including 3,500 microfibres and microplastics, and 2,000 unidentifiable pieces of plastic waste,” Minister Price said.

“This is Australian technology which costs as little as $1 a day to run and which can have huge dividends for the environment.”

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said that the one-year trial involving Defence and its industry partners, Veolia Environmental Services, was another example of the Morrison Government’s commitment to tackling waste and recycling.

As people spend time outdoors and on our waterways at this time of year, it is a great time to focus on the role we can all play in protecting our environment.

“We can’t keep putting plastic in our oceans and it starts by getting our waste into the recycling bin where it belongs,” Minister Ley said.

“We have made waste and recycling a national priority and it is one that requires us all to get involved.

“The Remade in Australia recycling campaign is an important reminder of the role consumers can play as we transform the nation’s recycling capacity and take responsibility for our waste.

“Industry is certainly stepping up at the same time and innovative technology like the Seabin is another important example.”

Member for Wentworth David Sharma said that the project would have benefits for beaches across the Harbour’s east and that the success of the trial on Sydney Harbour would help focus all Australians on the importance of keeping waterways clean.

“Sydney Harbour is one of the world’s great waterways and this technology is an important sign of our commitment to keeping it that way,” Mr Sharma said.

“Defence has always been a part of the Harbour landscape both through current sites like Garden Island and our former Defence Sites now managed through the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.”



Plastic items collected over a two-week period:



Microfibres (plastic fibres derived from rope)


Microplastics <5mm (incl. pellets, nurdles)


Unidentified plastic items – soft >5mm


Unidentified plastic items – hard >5mm


Foam pieces


Soft plastic food packaging/wrappers


Fishing line


Cigarette butts


Plastic straws


Plastic lids


Hard plastic food packaging (cups etc.)


Plastic bags


Plastic bottles




Plastic lollipop/cotton bud sticks






Plastic utensils


Tennis ball/toy ball


Face mask/gloves


Fishing gear (floats, lures etc.)














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