Types of Rubbish Constantly Polluting Sydney Rivers

Sydney is one of the key cities in Australia. In 2019, it had the highest GDP contribution, which is a whopping $461.44 million. More and more people choose to reside in Sydney for employment and business opportunities. That’s also why big industries, such as manufacturing, financial, and construction firms, opt to build their offices here. 

Along with its booming economy, Sydney is dealing with waste generation problems. Based on the NSW Waste Report for 2018-2019, households from the Sydney metro area produced about 1.84 million tonnes of wastes, which account for 50.3% of the total of NSW. 

Sydneysiders tend to accumulate piles of rubbish because of the city’s lifestyle. Furthermore, impatient people throw their wastes in the streets or rivers for faster disposal. Note that it is illegal dumping, and you can pay up fines from $7500 up to $250,000 depending on the offence. 

Are you curious about the types of rubbish constantly polluting Sydney rivers? Aussie Junkprepared this list for you.  

Cigarette Butts

The City of Sydney Council estimates about 15,000 cigarette butts tossed across the central business district, Kings Cross, and Glebe every day. Though mostly littered on streets, stormwater can carry them to the pipes of Sydney Harbour. Decaying cigarette butts release toxic chemicals such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic into water and soil. These substances reduce water quality and potentially harm river inhabitants. 

The NSW funded the Cigarette Butt Litter Prevention Grants Program to support councils in their campaign against littering. Authorities build smoking hotspots and scatter bins in strategic places to prevent tossing cigarette butts in the streets and rivers.  


Sydney Water clears about a million plastic bottles in waterways every year. To remove this water pollutant, they spend about $150,000 annually. However, the councils continue to struggle as some people don’t cooperate with their call to reduce plastic rubbish. 

Furthermore, microplastics put a considerable risk in rivers after storms. In Sydney’s Cooks River, they increase about 40 times more than usual. Note that microplastics are dangerous for fishes and zooplankton. They decelerate growth, interfere with reproduction, and cause the death of aquatic animals. 

Household Chemicals

Household chemicals usually go off through the sewer system. But irrigation and rainwater sometimes carry substances and flow through waterways, untreated. It causes contamination and results in substandard water quality. 

Here are some household chemicals that pollute Sydney rivers:

  • Cleaning detergents 
  • Paints, oils, and solvents
  • Automotive chemicals
  • Fertilisers, insecticides, and fungicides
  • Weedkiller
  • Pet manure
  • Loose grass and clippings and leaves 

Note that hazardous waste products require safe and careful disposal. They should not end up in landfills. Check NSW’s guidelines here.  

Industrial Waste

As most businesses and industries settle here in Sydney, we accumulate massive amounts of industrial waste. The highest contributors of pollutants in rivers come from factories and chemical processing plants. They are the reasons why parts of Cooks River and Parramatta River have been dead for several decades now. 

A high concentration of contaminants leads to the death of aquatic life. Here are some of the industrial chemicals that usually enter rivers:

  • Cyanide
  • Zinc
  • Lead
  • Copper
  • Cadmium
  • Mercury
  • Dioxins
  • Phthalates
  • DDT

As citizens, we should demand authorities for stricter laws and regulations regarding industrial waste. They need to make sure that corporations are following the NSW EPA Guidelines for industrial waste management


Litter items and illegally dumped wastes require immediate actions from the Sydneysiders and the councils. As we now know the types of rubbish constantly polluting Sydney rivers, we should minimise their use and recycle them as much as possible. 

If you ever need rubbish advice, Aussie Junk is just one call away. Our professional team of removalists can answer your enquiries regarding proper waste management and disposal. And if you decide to discard them away with recycling as the priority, we are the right partner for you! 

We have established deep connections from Sydney recycling centres to process recyclables into something valuable. Furthermore, we make sure to follow the NSW EPA Guidelines for waste transport and disposal. So, rest assured that illegal dumping is an unacceptable act for us. 

For the best rubbish removal services in Sydney, contact Kurt at ‪0435 569 921‬ or send us a  message through email

Aussie Junk

Aussie Junk

Aussie Junk is a proud local Sydney rubbish removal company. We help educate Aussies on the importance of environmental topics such as recycling, hygiene, personal and social well-being and sustainability. Free up more valuable space in your life by calling our local team to help clear and clean out your junk today.

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