Cars, trucks, tractors, slashers, bicycles and even lawnmowers break up waste and move it through the environment.
For example, collection of kerbside waste bins by rubbish trucks can result in plastic bags, paper and other items blowing out and contributing to residential and roadside litter. It highlights the importance of roads in the mechanical distribution of waste pollution.
Mechanical processes transport waste pollution through the environment and together with wind, rain and sunshine, they also tend to break up persistent material (like plastic) into smaller pieces. These pieces remain in the environment as they do not break down into organically usable forms. For example, a plastic water bottle fragments into smaller and smaller pieces, going from macroplastics (greater than 5mm) to microplastics (100nm–5mm) and nanoplastics (less than 100nm). At each stage, these pose different threats to animals and ecosystems.
Waste made of bio/photodegradable material breaks down completely and decomposes into natural elements.
Last updated: 10 May 2021
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2021) Mechanical, WetlandInfo website, accessed 27 October 2023. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/management/pressures/litter-illegal-dumping/pathways/mechanical/