Waste Management Review speaks with Brad Gray, City of Canterbury-Bankstown Sustainable Future Manager, about the council’s innovative Eyes On It anti-dumping campaign.
The City Canterbury-Bankstown’s Eyes On It campaign targets illegal dumping behaviour in the local government area, letting residents know that putting items on the street without a booked clean up is illegal and fines up to $4000 apply.
Q: Why did council decide to develop the Eyes On It anti-dumping campaign?
A: The Eyes On It anti-dumping campaign, which launched in 2019, was developed to combat illegal dumping through education rather than punishment.
A survey of Canterbury-Bankstown residents found 90 per cent were concerned about illegal dumping and generally wanted a clean and green city. Having a clean and green city also had a positive effect on our city’s health and economy.
Q: How did your community respond to the campaign?
A: There was a fantastic response to the campaign. At the conclusion of 16 weeks, illegal dumping was reduced by 39 per cent and reports from the community on illegal dumps tripled to more than 2700 calls.
Q: What actions did council engage in under the campaign?
A: Firstly, the campaign was driven by data. We gathered data on illegal dumps across Canterbury-Bankstown and looked at related demographic information. This allowed us to identify hot spots to target for educational materials.
Like many councils, we offer free booked clean-ups, which people needed to know about. It also helped us realise the importance of translated materials for new migrant areas.
When we identified a dump, it was taped with warning tape and stickered to state it was illegal. Shockingly, 43 per cent of dumps were removed by the dumper themselves and we even received apologetic calls from people who didn’t realise it was illegal.
Q: How has the campaign effected the issue of illegal dumping in Canterbury-Bankstown?
A: A total of 6686 illegal dumps were taped, reported and removed. At the end of the campaign, 3.5 million people were reached.
People are more aware about illegal dumping and that was clear from the increase in reports we received.
Q: How did council feel when the campaign was recognised at the NSW Local Government Excellence Awards?
A: We are pleased this campaign has been recognised across the state at the NSW Local Government Excellence Awards. We hope it can be useful to other areas facing similar issues.
Q: What advice would you offer other local governments looking to address the issue of illegal dumping?
A: What made Eyes On It successful was its integrated campaign. That is, our media, waste operations and on-ground teams worked together to send a consistent and cohesive message: putting items on your kerb is illegal and you could be fined up to $4000.
Q: What are council’s next steps to improve waste and resource recovery in the region?
A: We have several projects in the pipeline and we’re constantly looking to educate residents in different and interesting ways.
We’re exploring food waste bins to create a more waste conscious city and we’re even providing by-laws for apartment blocks struggling with illegal dumping inside private property.