NSW Government Litter Prevention Program
Any program designed to minimise littering in the community must include a mix of approaches. An integrated approach to litter prevention is likely to be the most effective method of tackling the litter problem in our communities. Integrated approaches include education, regulatory and enforcement strategies, infrastructure provision and financial incentives.
The NSW Government's Litter Prevention Program, managed by the Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW (incorporating the Environment Protection Authority NSW and Resource NSW) supported the introduction of new litter laws in July 2000 and April 2001. The program aims to reduce littering by:
- influencing people's littering behaviour;
- supporting the expanded and stronger litter laws; and
- encouraging key stakeholders (local councils, State government agencies and community groups) to be active in litter prevention through an integrated approach of education, enforcement and infrastructure provision (eg bins, recycling facilities and clean up activities).
Since 1999 the Program has included:
- changes to the litter laws;
- public education and media campaigns;
- training and support for councils, government agencies and community organisations; and
- community education projects.
The Protection of the Environment Operations Act, 1997 (POEO Act) was amended to allow for stronger but more flexible and enforceable anti-litter provisions:
- a single fine for littering has been replaced with a tiered range of fines
- $60 for littering with small items, such as bottle tops and cigarette butts
- $200 for general littering, and for littering from vehicles
- $400 for littering from vehicles (corporations)
- $375 for aggravated littering which threatens public safety or the environment, such as intentionally breaking glass or depositing lit cigarette butts during fire seasons
- $750 for aggravated littering (corporations)
- littering on private land will be better regulated
- from 1 April 2001 it will be illegal for advertising material to be placed under car windscreen wipers, on property gates or fences, and other inappropriate areas where it has the potential to become litter.
See The litter laws for more information
Early in 2000, the Government launched a three-year public education program to address the littering problem. The first phase (conducted in two waves - June and July/August 2000) was designed firstly to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of littering and the notion of personal responsibility and secondly, to communicate to the public the new fines which came into effect on 1 July 2000.
The Don't be a Tosser campaign, the second phase of the program, ran during January/February 2002. This campaign focused on littering from vehicles - a common littering behaviour in NSW, accounting for 62% of all litter fines issued in the first year of the new litter laws.
In June/July 2003, a third campaign was run to reinforce and extend awareness and behaviour change generated by the Don't Be a Tosser campaign. It took the Don't be a Tosser message from focusing on littering from vehicles to littering in public places and small-scale illegal dumping.
All campaigns used television, radio and outdoor advertising and were accompanied by tailored press and radio campaigns in six to eight community languages.
The program encourages litter prevention through a range of community education activities that:
- promote community awareness, knowledge and understanding of the littering issue and its impacts
- facilitate litter prevention behaviour by promoting simple, practical methods for particular groups and individuals in the community
- build the community's capacity to undertake activities that reduce litter in their local area, or in places identified as high litter areas
Activities have included:
- developing and distributing an information and resource kit for community organisations wishing to run a litter prevention program
- providing workshops for community organisations and council educators on the Litter Prevention Program and community education
- providing funding to Keep Australia Beautiful to administer a program of local litter prevention grants in 2002. (See the list of 37 grants provided to community groups in 2000-2001.)
- providing funding to Clean Up Australia for two community-based litter prevention projects, one focusing on beach litter prevention and the other on school litter prevention.
Information and training for councils and other agencies
One of the main aspects of the program has been to ensure that regulatory agencies, particularly councils, have the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to enforce the new litter laws and implement local litter prevention activities through education. Councils have primary responsibility for enforcing littering laws and are taking the leading role in litter management under the Litter Prevention Program.
In 2000, the Government conducted litter training workshops for local council officers across NSW to introduce the new litter laws. Further litter training workshops were conducted by an external provider in 2001 and 2002.
The Government also encouraged local councils to develop integrated litter prevention programs that use a mix of education and enforcement. All local Councils have received Don't be a Tosser campaign resource kits to support local anti-littering programs. A total of 75 councils were funded under the Don't be a Tosser extension program to implement local litter prevention initiatives in 2002. These included both enforcement (litter blitzes) and education activities using the campaign kit materials. The grants program is continuing and is managed by the Sustainability Programs Division of the DECC.
Order a campaign resource kit for information and media materials for community education campaigns.
Contact: Sustainability Programs Division.
This page makes reference to materials published by the former Resource NSW. Enquiries regarding Resource NSW, its programs or publications should be directed to the Sustainability Programs Division.
Page last updated: 21 September 2012