Litter and Illegal Dumping

Littering

According to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), the single most common litter item in Australia is the cigarette butt. Cigarette butts make up half of the litter in NSW.

Other common litter includes small pieces of paper, chip and confectionery wrappers, fast-food packaging, bottle caps, glass pieces, glass alcohol bottles, plastic straws and soft drink bottles (both plastic and metal).

Littering is an offence. You can be fined if you commit a littering offence.

Report littering from a vehicle

If you see litter being discarded or blown from a vehicle you can report this to Council or to  the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). You will need to record details such as the vehicle registration, location, type of litter, date and time. When doing so make sure you do not compromise your safety. By reporting littering from motor vehicles, you can help raise awareness, reduce clean-up costs and keep NSW clean.

illegal dumping

What is Illegal Dumping?

Illegal dumping is considered a significant problem by Council's in NSW.

Illegal dumping is the placement of waste on any public land without appropriate authorisation.

Waste includes such items as general household rubbish (from a supermarket bag up), larger domestic items such as fridges and mattresses, garden organics, building materials, clinical and hazardous wastes, abandoned cars and tyres.

Such waste can occur in any quantities, in any mixture. It does not include littering of small individual items like cigarette butts, chip packets and takeaway packaging.

Penalties for Illegal Dumping

Many people dump rubbish because they think it is cheaper than taking it to a waste management facility to dispose of it correctly.

However, the fines for illegal dumping can vary from $750-$5000. Listed below are some of the fines and penalties associated with Illegal dumping:

Under the POEO Act 1997, the following fines can be issued:

  • Section 143 - Unlawful transport of waste, $750 fine for individuals and $1500 for corporations. E.g. for the transportation and dumping of rubbish onto the footpath from inside a property.
  • The penalty for transporting hazardous waste (e.g. asbestos) is $1500 for individuals and $5000 for corporations
  • Section 145 - Littering (small item such as a small bag of rubbish) is $60
  • Section 145A - aggravated littering such as broken glass will cost the offender $375 individuals or $750 for corporations.

The Effects of Dumping

The cost of illegal dumping is three fold, environmental, social and financial:

Environmental Costs

  • can degrade the land, including plant and animal habitats
  • can destroy local bush land, reduce biodiversity value and hinder revegetation
  • runoff from dump sites may contaminate soil and water sources, such as lakes, creeks and drinking water supplies
  • dumped items can alter the normal drainage course of runoff and make areas more susceptible to flooding and erosion when waste blocks creeks, stormwater drains and gutters
  • dumped materials could catch fire either by spontaneous combustion or arson, which can damage property and bushland.
  • illegally dumped items are a lost resource. Many items can be recycled, particularly garden organic material, beverage containers, fridges, computers, tyres and car bodies

Social costs

  • reduces aesthetic amenity and deters people from visiting areas where there is frequent illegal dumping
  • dumped items create physical (protruding nails or sharp edges) and chemical (harmful fluids or dust) hazards for anyone who does visit the site
  • dump sites attract rodents, insects and other vermin that pose health risks
  • thousands of volunteer hours are spent participating in clean up initiatives such as clean up Australia day, keep Australia Beautiful and Tidy towns, at a significant cost to the communities resources
  • dump sites attract further dumping and other criminal activities, such as graffiti and arson, which decrease community pride and further exacerbate the problem

Financial costs

  • NSW local Governments are estimated to spend $10 million a year removing and properly disposing of illegally dumped materials and land filling.
  • the community bares the cost of lower property prices because the area is less attractive to prospective commercial and residential landowners

Reporting Illegal Dumping

To report littering or illegal dumping or for more information contact Council on 6655 7300 or emai council@bellingen.nsw.gov.au

External Links

NSW EPA Litter Reporting Portal

NSW EPA Facts About Illegal Dumping

Protection of the Environment Operations Act