'It's an environmental disaster' - Anti-litter warrior says Wellington beaches the worst he's seen

Litter-fighting warrior Des Watson says in all this time touring the nation picking up rubbish, his past week in Wellington has been the worst.

Litter along the coastline in Wellington. Source: Supplied

Mr Watson, the founder of Kiwis Clean Aotearoa, has been travelling around New Zealand since January 1 collecting rubbish from coastlines, waterways, roadsides and parks.

He's been in Wellington for more than a week and said the state of it is worse than the Fox River clean-up on the West Coast, where a storm spewed rubbish from and old landfill onto its beaches.

For the past few days, Mr Watson said, he had been out in Eastbourne and Point Howard, where he'd picked up over 1000 pieces of rubbish a day, including lollipop sticks, glass, bottle caps and micro-plastics.

"It's an environmental disaster. Literally millions of pieces of plastic and polystyrene," he told 1 NEWS.

"I'm horrified at what I've seen ... it's a real epidemic here.

"I'm having to wear a respirator as some of the plastic is that rotten that it crumbles as you pick it up.

"I've noticed mass amounts of plastic coming out of the Hutt River, which I believe is from the stormwater drains."

Mr Watson said he contacted Hutt City Council but was told the problem wasn't in its budget to do anything about.

When contacted by 1 NEWS, a council spokesperson said they undertake a number of activities to keep Lower Hutt clean, including working with a team of volunteers.

"We do see litter entering the stormwater network in urban areas and flowing through to the environment, particularly during high winds and heavy rain," a Wellington Water spokesperson said.

"Some of our network intakes contain grills to capture this kind of material, which also contributes to blockages and flooding, but smaller litter will pass through. 

"For this reason, it’s hugely helpful for homes and businesses to actively manage and contain their rubbish to minimise what gets into the stormwater system, and from there into the environment."

Contractors sweep the beaches twice a week for rubbish, the council spokesperson said.

Des Watson says he's picked up over 1000 pieces of rubbish a day. Source: Supplied

"We point the finger at dairy farmers," Mr Watson continued. "This is way more detrimental than poo from an animal and it's not going away. There's literally millions of pieces of plastic.

"I just don't know what to do. It's the worst I've seen with my two eyes. There's bottles imploding in on themselves into hundreds of pieces."

Mr Watson, who's motived by helping sea animals and birds impacted by human waste, said in 2018 he got a sum of inheritance which led him to travel the nation with a trailer collecting rubbish and visiting council's to ask about their waste management schemes. 

He's now got an online following of 2000 people who come out and help in his clean up missions.

"Ultimately it's everyone's responsibility - not just mine," he said. 

"If we don't do anything now, in the next 20 years our kids are going to suffer the consequences.

"Something needs to be done."

At the end of this month, Mr Watson is heading to Northland to finish the clean up he started right before he returned to the South Island for Covid-19 lockdown.

Des Watson says he's picked up lollipop sticks, bottle caps and micro-plastics. Source: Supplied