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Keeping our environment clean

Published 22nd December, 2017

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

Why is this important to the people of NSW?

Littering impacts all of us. It spoils our environment, costs millions to clean up, and is associated with anti-social behaviour.

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 leads 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.

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

Litter leads to more litter. The more litter there is in a given area, the less likely people will care for that space.

How are we tracking?

NSW has reduced the volume of litter by seven per cent since the Premier's Priority baseline year (2013-14). While 2016-17 saw the volume of litter increase, this follows three years of steady reduction in litter.

Results from the biannual Keep Australia Beautiful (KAB) litter surveys, reported annually in the National Litter Index, show litter volume in 2016-17 increased by 15 per cent and litter items increased by six per cent.

What are we doing?

Return and Earn: Container Deposit Scheme

The NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, commenced across NSW on 1 December 2017.

Drink container litter makes up 44 per cent of the volume of all litter in the state and costs more than $162 million to manage.

Under Return and Earn, people are able to return eligible beverage containers for recycling in exchange for a 10-cent refund. For more information visit the Return and Earn website.

Education and Awareness: Hey 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 will provide funding to councils, community groups and other organisations to help them tackle littering, combat illegal dumping and increase recycling.

So far, $7.06 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 $7.06 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 $4.25 million in grant funding will be made available for council and community litter grant projects from July 2017 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 22nd December, 2017