Roads and Maritime Services, NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and ten Western Sydney councils have partnered to reduce and prevent roadside litter in Sydney’s West in the month of April.
The first-of-its-kind partnership was formed through the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) regional waste strategy following ongoing discussions with state government agencies.
“Last year Western Sydney councils collectively spent $14 million on litter management, making it a major impost for councils and their communities,” said WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali.
“This isn’t just a public amenity issue, roadside litter can increase risks other road users, and in the case of cigarette butts, cause dangerous grass fires.”
The campaign will include coordinated enforcement activities and roadside litter pick-ups, as well as promotion of the Report to EPA website that allows members of the public to report littering offences by noting the vehicle’s registration plate and location of the offence.
“Currently, roadside litter is managed by a number of different levels and sectors of government,” said Cr Bali.
“EPA polices littering from vehicles, however, once that litter hits the ground it becomes the responsibility of either local councils or Roads and Maritime – depending on whether it is a local or state road.
“This division of responsibility can only be overcome by collaboration. Working together will improve outcomes for all parties – preventing litter falling through the cracks,” said Cr Bali.
WSROC began working with the NSW EPA and Roads and Maritime through the NSW Government’s Tidy Roads Steering Committee. Key industry players such as Roads and Maritime Services, NSW EPA, McDonalds, Woolworths and the Australian Food and Grocery Council have also been involved in discussions around litter.
In a statement, Roads and Maritime Services said roadside litter cost the organisation around $9 million last year across NSW. This isn’t just costly for Roads and Maritime, but ultimately for the community.
It said the campaign is the result of ongoing collaboration between WSROC, EPA and Roads and Maritime; a partnership that is essential for a coordinated approach to litter.
Roads and Maritime Services said it is working toward replicating partnerships like this with other joint organisations across the state.
“The Report to EPA website gives Western Sydney residents the power to make a difference – to report litterers, and ultimately reduce the local clean-up bill,” said Barry Buffier, Chair and CEO of NSW EPA.”
“Councils have a history of effective grass-roots engagement with their communities, and we hope this partnership will bolster local engagement with the state-wide Hey Tosser program,” said Mr Buffier.