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The Keep Australia Beautiful 2017-18 National Report has published results from its National Litter Index survey, providing a separate more detailed report on survey results for Tasmania.
National results show a decrease of 10.3 per cent in the number of litter items counted in 2017-18 compared with 2016-17 continuing a long term national trend of reduced litter levels.
The most significant decreases were 16.8 per cent for takeaway food and beverage packaging, 15.2 per cent in other paper, 12.7 per cent in general other litter items, 14.0 per cent in beverage containers and 6.4 per cent in cigarette litter.
The results for Tasmania indicated a decrease of 6.4 per cent in litter items and 6.2 per cent in volumes of litter across most categories.
While decreases were recorded at major roads and highways, retail precincts, car parks and shopping centres, there were increases in litter recorded at recreational parks, beaches, and residential streets.
Industrial precincts, retail shopping precincts and shopping centres had the highest numbers of litter items driven largely by cigarette butts which account for around two thirds of the overall litter.
The Western Australian Government is planning to roll out a campaign that targets littered cigarette butts and packaging after it was found they made up more than a third of the state’s litter.
Keep Australia Beautiful WA’s 2017-18 National Litter Index (NLI) has found discarded butts were responsible for pushing up the state’s litter statistics with a 21.9 per cent increase in cigarette litter. The butts and packaging accounted for 3376 of the 9550 litter items recorded by the count.
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Littering had increased by 2.6 per cent across WA compared to the previous year’s results, but overall littering was still 21 per cent lower than what had been recorded in 2015-16. Takeaway packaging litter in WA had been reduced by 11.3 per cent, according to the NLI with beverage containers also down by seven per cent.
The NLI is measured twice each financial year each state and territory. Litter across 151 sites within 50 kilometres of Perth’s CBD is measured as part of the index, looking at highways, beaches, retail and shopping areas, car parks, recreational parks and residential and industrial areas.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said cigarette butts are the most littered item in Australia.
“Littered cigarette butts do not break down and are often washed into waterways, causing contamination,” Mr Dawson said.
“They can be mistaken for food by our wildlife and are a blight on the beauty of our state’s natural environment.
“The efforts of the majority are being undermined by the selfish acts of the few who litter. If you are a smoker, please dispose of your cigarette butts responsibly into waste bins. Failing to do this is an offence,” he said.
A litter prevention program will receive a $400,000 funding boost after it successfully reduced roadside litter by around 70 per cent in some roadside locations.
Main Roads WA will contribute the funding towards extending Keep Australia Beautiful Council’s “Put your rubbish in the bin. WA naturally thanks you” campaign.
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The program installs anti-litter roadside signage, bin stickers, and provides 300,000 free car litter bags which are available from roadhouses along selected routes.
The program has been rolled out on the Forrest Highway, Great Eastern Highway and Brand Highway.
Funding from Main Roads WA will enable further enable the rollout of anti-litter signage on WA’s freeways and highways.
Sustainable car litter bags and posters will also be distributed to roadhouses to encourage road users to dispose of their rubbish correctly.
WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said Main Roads WA spends around $6 million each year to remove litter from roadsides, with proactive measures far more cost effective at tackling the issue.
“The National Litter Index indicates that roadsides are one of the most littered areas in WA,” she said.
“I am pleased that, through this campaign, we have been able to decrease the amount of litter at some locations by up to 70 per cent.”
WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the successes of the campaign has resulted in a reduction of funding needed for roadside clean ups.
“This is about making motorists think twice before they litter and to take some pride in WA’s precious natural environment,” he said.