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 plastics 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. 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 will engage riverfront businesses, commercial operators and councils operating in and around the Swan and Canning rivers to help reduce single use plastics entering the Riverpark. The program will also work with other Government departments, peak bodies and research institutions to champion zero waste initiatives. This work is 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 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 councils, consumers, and recreational user groups can make big inroads towards a zero-waste economy and a healthier Riverpark for all.

Reducing single use plastics 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.

Café counter with coffee cup lids

The Plastic Free Riverpark program will engage riverfront businesses to help remove single use plastics from their venues. Riverfront businesses including cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, yacht clubs and commercial operators within 500m of the Swan or Canning rivers are eligible for small grants and incentives of up to $500 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 other innovative ideas business owners may have to reduce plastic waste or encourage positive behaviour change from Riverpark visitors.

Access the PFR program grant application form PDF (96 KB)

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

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 councils.

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

Promoting 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 plastic pollution can be generated in or near the water.

Matilda Bay swimthru event

The Plastic Free Riverpark program will engage local riverfront governments and event management companies to help remove single use plastics such as cups, foodware, takeaway food containers and more from priority events throughout the Riverpark.

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

Get involved

We can all play a part in helping reduce single use plastics entering the Swan and Canning Riverpark. Be a River Giver and drink from reusable coffee cups, bring a refillable water bottle to your favourite venue, and choose to use compostable takeaway food packaging. This can make a huge difference to reduce single use plastic litter and pollution at popular Riverpark destinations.

Waiter with café keep cups

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 business wanting to make a difference? Please contact for more information.

Contact us

Zoe Beeson
Project Officer - Plastic Free Riverpark program

Mobile: 0467538518
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 20 May 2022