Vacuum plan for beach polystyrene clean up

Polystyrene balls litter the beach. Photo: Rob Maccoll

The latest weapon in the battle to rid Noosa’s eastern beaches of tiny polystyrene particles is set to hit the sand in coming weeks.

Noosa Council will deploy an industrial vacuum to two of the worst affected areas, after the recent heavy rain has passed.

Acting Environment Services Manager Shaun Walsh said the vacuum – mounted on a four-wheel-drive vehicle – was equipped with a screen to filter the polystyrene from the sand.

“We’ll be concentrating on the dune areas behind the beach where a lot of the smaller particles have settled, carried by the wind,” he said.

Council staff will follow behind the beach vacuum crew collecting remaining mess by hand.

Mr Walsh said residents had done a tremendous job supporting the clean-up by collecting particles by hand, but Council was working hard to find a more efficient solution.

“Unfortunately there is not really any technology purpose-built for removing polystyrene from sand – it’s an unusual situation and certainly not a problem we’ve seen before, but we are delighted to be using this commercial scale equipment in the clean-up,“ he said.

“Stakeholders from across the state are very interested in the outcomes of these works as there’s no known technology to deal with this mess.

“In the meantime, bags will remain at the busier beach access points and we greatly appreciate the continued efforts of residents who grab a bag and help collect the polystyrene.”

The polystyrene is from pontoons that washed ashore during recent floods.

While the pontoons were removed in a complicated joint salvage mission by Council and MSQ weeks ago, tackling the polystyrene particles left behind is an ongoing challenge.