Volunteer to help keep our harbour beautiful

Litter in Sydney Harbour is a big problem. To help address this issue we have pollution capture devices, public bins and staff cleaning the beaches regularly, however there is an ongoing stream of litter flowing in. These items are dropped when people visit parks and beaches, flow in through stormwater pipes and are also blown in from all parts of Sydney Harbour by winds and tides.

Plastic pollution is of particular concern as animals can mistake it for food and eat it. This can cause marine animals and birds to be injured or die.

Volunteers can play an important role to help remove litter from our beaches and protect our wildlife. There are lots of people picking up litter on our beaches every day. Our HarbourCare program recognises the important work volunteers do, provides support for volunteer groups and encourages others to get involved.

group with bags of litter on beach

How can we get involved?

  • Groups - host your own beach clean-up with your staff team or community group. You’ll find tips to plan and register your clean-up below.
  • Individuals - sign up as an individual volunteer with our HarbourCare program. It's as easy as keeping an eye out for litter while on your morning walk or swim. Register as an individual here and we’ll provide some bags and gloves to get you started.
  • Events - join our next Clean Up Australia Day event. We host a community beach clean-up once a year as part of Clean Up Australia Day. The next event will be held on Sunday 3 March 2024. Check details of our upcoming environmental events here.
  • Link with others - find other groups organising clean-ups. Take 3 for the Sea organises clean-ups for corporate groups on Rose Bay and Watsons Bay beaches. Clean Up Australia Day lists clean-ups in various locations.

8 tips to plan your group beach clean-up

We welcome your corporate or community groups to organise a beach clean-up on one of our beautiful harbour beaches. We can help by giving you free bags and gloves, registering your clean up in our calendar and providing details about where to leave your collected items.

  1. Register your clean-up. We ask all groups to register their clean-up activities to help spread your efforts across our beaches and avoid two groups cleaning up in the same location. To register consider the points below then complete our Group Clean Up Request form.
  2. Select your location. Our best locations for beach clean ups are Rose Bay Beach and Watsons Bay Beach.  You can also clean up at: Double Bay, Redleaf, Bellamy, Parsley Bay or Camp Cove beaches.
  3. Decide on a date and time. Most groups allow around 2 hours for the actual clean-up. The best time for a beach clean-up is close to low tide. You can check the tide times at Willy Weather website or similar. Beach clean ups over late spring and summer are very popular so please plan ahead.
  4. Check your group size. We recommend a group size of 5-15 to clean up on most of our beaches. If you have a large group consider booking two locations. 
  5. Decide on equipment. We can supply bags and gloves for your group if you need them. You will need to give us notice and collect the gear from our Council Customer Service area 536 New South Head Road, Double Bay.
  6. Consider food, fun and park bookings. If you wish to hire a nearby park space e.g. for a lunch together in the park following your event you need to book through this link. Most of our beaches have some great local pubs and cafes for group drinks or lunch when you finish.
  7. Plan for insurance & risk. We require a copy of your Public Liability Insurance Certificate ($20 million). It is your responsibility to plan your own risk management for the activity. We will provide some tips that can support your risk planning.
  8. Where to leave the litter. We will provide you with advice for where to leave the collected litter when we confirm your request.  

Group Clean Up Request

What will happen with your application? 

  • We will assess your request to check it doesn't clash with other registered clean ups and reply within 3-5 business day.
  • If there are clashes we'll suggest alternate locations and/or dates. When your details are confirmed we'll add your clean-up to our calendar and ask you to send us a copy of your Public Liability Insurance Certificate.
  • If you need bags and gloves for your clean up we'll ask you to confirm the number of participants at least 3 business days before the event and set aside your gear for collection.

More information