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Keeping our environment clean

Published 10th September, 2018

Reduce the volume of litter by 40 per cent, by 2020.

Why is this important to the people of NSW?

Reducing litter is a key part of keeping our environment clean.

Littering impacts all of us, it harms our natural environment and reduces the amenity of our communities. It costs millions to clean up and is associated with anti-social behaviour. We can all take action to keep our environment clean, making our state a better place to live.

NSW map

90 per cent of us think littering is a very important issue facing NSW.
EPA Hey Tosser post campaign research results 2017 (available from EPA)

It’s time to rethink our approach to litter

Litter has harmful effects. It pollutes ecosystems, waterways and highways. Littering can lead to anti-social behaviour and crime, and makes our communities less safe.

On top of the environmental and social costs, litter costs us at least $180 million every year to clean up. 

Let’s work together to keep our environment the way it was meant to be—litter-free, for us and for future generations.

trash cash

The cleaner a place is, the less likely people are to litter. 

How are we tracking?

In 2015, the government announced the Premier's Priority to reduce litter volumes by 40 per cent by 2020, from the 2013-2014 baseline. The results of the 2017-2018 National Litter Index shows we have achieved a 37 per cent reduction in the volume of litter and are on track to meet the target two years ahead of schedule.

Since the Return and Earn Scheme started in December 2017, the volume of littered drink containers has reduced by 33 per cent.

Learn more about the National Litter Index.

What are we doing?

Return and Earn: Container Deposit Scheme

The NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, has over 600 collection points across the state, offering customers a 10 cent refund for every eligible drink container returned.

Customers are now returning four million containers a day through the scheme (October 2018). Drink containers make up 44 per cent of the volume of all litter in NSW. Return and Earn is making a real difference in keeping our environment clean.

The NSW Customer Service Commissioner surveyed 2000 NSW residents in August 2018. They found that after nine months of the scheme, 90 per cent of people who had returned containers said they would use Return and Earn again, with 81 per cent saying they would recommend the scheme to others.

For more information on your nearest collection point or to learn more about the scheme visit the Return and Earn website.

Education and Awareness: Don't be a Tosser! campaign

The campaign educates the public about litter and inspires action across NSW. It provides helpful tips on reducing litter and empowers people to take action to stop tossers polluting our environment.

Watch this video with an audio description

Council and Community Litter Prevention Grants

Between July 2012 to July 2021, the $802 million Waste Less, Recycle More initiative is providing funding to councils, community groups and other organisations to help them tackle littering, combat illegal dumping and increase recycling.

So far, $8.3 million has been awarded to councils, Regional Waste Groups and community groups. We have helped fund new and improved litter bins, cigarette butt bins, litter signs, enforcement of litter laws, litter education and community engagement initiatives about the impacts of littering. The average reduction in litter for each council or community grant is 60 per cent. Apply for council and community litter prevention grants here

As part of the $8.3 million, 15 Regional Waste Groups received $2.9 million, and local councils received $3.96 million in grants to implement their local litter prevention plans. Local projects included preventing and reducing litter in recreational parks and sport fields, rural highways and roads and at bus interchanges in town centres.

A further $1.9 million in grant funding will be made available for council and community litter grant projects from July 2018 to July 2021.

What can you do?

Volunteering on Clean Up Australia Day, becoming the anti-littering champion in your workplace, or running a litter prevention project in your neighbourhood are just a few of the ways you can help us make our state litter-free.

Want to help?

Published 10th September, 2018
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