Windsurfers on the river. Photo - Matt Kleczkowski
Windsurfers on the river. Photo - Matt Kleczkowski

Over the past decade there has been a significant increase in the amount of single use plastic litter entering the Swan Canning Riverpark. The Plastic Free Riverpark program is a four-year State Government election commitment to help reduce single use plastic packaging in and around the Swan and Canning rivers.

Plastic pollution in the Riverpark can originate from many sources including bins, stormwater drains, riverfront businesses, aquatic user groups, Fremantle Harbour, and the nearby Indian Ocean.

Wildlife can ingest floating plastic debris or become entangled. Plastics washing up on foreshores can affect root growth of flora and visitor amenity. Remaining debris can impact tourism, block drainage infrastructure and break up into harmful microplastics.

Working together to slow the flow of plastic pollution

The Plastic Free Riverpark program engages riverfront businesses, sporting groups, commercial operators and local governments operating in and around the Swan and Canning rivers to help reduce single use plastic products entering the Riverpark.

In its first six months the program has engaged over 50 riverfront businesses and distributed over $60,000 in small grant funds to assist businesses and local governments to transition to reusable products and zero waste initiatives. The program also works with other Government departments, peak bodies and research institutions. This work supports part of Western Australia’s Plan for Plastics legislation, which has introduced a ban on the sale, supply, and distribution of plastic cups, bottles, cutlery, thick plastic bags, and more.

The Plastic Free Riverpark program combines stakeholder engagement with research to deliver tangible outcomes for the Swan and Canning rivers.

A healthy Riverpark for all

The Swan Canning Riverpark is socially, culturally and economically significant to the people of Perth. The Riverpark is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna with more than 80 bird species, 130 recorded species of fish, around 20-25 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, as well as seahorses, anemones, crabs, and more inhabiting the water and surrounding foreshores.

Pelicans on the river at sunset. photo - Matt Kleckowski
Pelicans on the river at sunset. Photo - Matt Kleczkowski

Change takes time but small actions from Perth’s businesses, local governments, consumers, and recreational user groups can make big inroads towards a zero-waste economy and a healthier Riverpark for all.

Reducing single use plastic products in riverfront businesses

The Swan and Canning rivers make a stunning location for hospitality and sporting club venues, leading to a range of businesses operating in or around its foreshores.

Cafe with sign promoting reusable serve-ware

The Plastic Free Riverpark program will engage riverfront food and beverage businesses to help transition away from single use plastic products in their venues. Businesses including cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, yacht clubs and charter operators within 500m of the Swan or Canning rivers are all eligible for small grants and incentives of $500 (plus GST) from DBCA.

The grants are designed to help businesses transition to a plastic free Riverpark and could include installing water refill stations for use by customers, implementing reusable cup libraries, or supporting innovative waste reduction ideas business owners may have to eliminate single use plastic packaging or encourage positive behaviour change from Riverpark visitors.

The second round of grant funding opened on 1 August 2022 and will close at 4 pm on 16 December 2022. Due to limited funding, applications are encouraged well in advance of the closing date and will be assessed on a weekly basis.

Are you a riverfront business wanting to make a difference? Contact for more information.

Supporting plastic free community events

From the Avon Descent to the Perth Skyworks, the Riverpark is a popular destination for a wide variety of events. With large crowds gathering to eat, drink, and mingle, a huge amount of single use plastic pollution can be generated in or near the water.

Crowds of attendees at the 2021 George Street Festival. Photo - Town of East Fremantle
2021 George Street Festival. Photo - Town of East Fremantle

The Plastic Free Riverpark program has already engaged five riverfront local governments to help remove single use plastic products such as cups, serve ware, takeaway food packaging and more from major foreshore community events throughout the Riverpark.

Over $40,000 in small grants were distributed to local governments during 2021-2022 to help deliver a diverse range of single use plastic reduction initiatives at popular foreshore events during 2022 and 2023.

Riverfront local governments are eligible for a one-off grant starting from $5,000 to support initiatives which eliminate single use plastic products at events of 5,000 or more attendees.

Working with food vendors to source reusable or sustainable products, clearly marking bins to help separate and dispose of waste effectively, and implementing water refill stations can help significantly to reduce the amount of plastic pollution produced at these important cultural and sporting gatherings.

For further information, contact

Measuring plastics in the Riverpark

In 2021, a baseline assessment of 38 shoreline sites across the Swan Canning Riverpark was carried out to identify types and prevalence of plastics. Led by the DBCA Rivers and Estuaries Science Program, in partnership with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER), the results to date have revealed plastic pollution is prevalent in our Riverpark.

Plastic waste on foreshore

During the first year of the Plastic Free Riverpark program, DBCA will support Curtin University Bachelor of Science students to measure single use plastic waste and micro plastics in selected Riverpark drains.

This research project will allow DBCA to fill gaps in knowledge from the baseline survey and identify priority drains and locations in the Swan and Canning rivers where plastic collection and intervention technologies can be installed in partnership with relevant local governments.

These technologies, including rubbish sorting racks, gross pollutant traps and customised bins, will assist local riverfront governments to collect and dispose of plastic pollution in these areas, while also allowing for future research and measurement to be conducted.

Get involved

We can all play a part in helping reduce single use plastics entering the Swan Canning Riverpark. Be a river giver and drink from a reusable coffee cup or bring a refillable water bottle to your favourite venue. Choose to reuse whenever you can. This can make a huge difference to reduce plastic pollution at popular Riverpark destinations.

Waiter collects reusable cups from a table

Recycle where you can and dispose of rubbish thoughtfully. If you see litter and it’s safe to pick it up, dispose of it in a bin with a lid or take it home to your household bin.

Are you a riverfront food and beverage business wanting to make a difference? Contact for more information.

Contact us

Zoe Beeson
Project Officer - Plastic Free Riverpark program

Mobile: 0467 538 518
Phone: 08 9278 0985
Riverpark Management Unit
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions
Parks and Wildlife Service

Dolphin swimming in the Riverpark.
Dolphin surfacing. Photo - Matt Kleczkowski



Partner logos including Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Boomerang Alliance, and Keep Australia Beautiful Council


Page reviewed 16 Sep 2022