The ACT government is cracking down on littering and illegal dumping with new laws, which passed in the Legislative Assembly in late October.
The laws will see the adoption of a better framework for addressing hoarding across the territory.
The new laws include an increase to the fine for dropping a small item of litter like a ticket or a coffee cup. Offenders will now face a $150 fine, instead of $65, if caught doing the wrong thing. Fines can reach $500 for items such as cigarette or a syringe.
Minister for City Services Chris Steel said the laws and give greater power to authorities to deal with individuals and businesses who choose to spoil the environment or put the community at risk with illegal dumping and littering.
“The new laws are easier to enforce, with infringement notices able to be issued to the owners of vehicles involved in illegal dumping, similar to speeding fines,” Steel said.
Steel said that cleaning up after illegal dumpers is a financial burden on ratepayers as the government spends $3 million a year cleaning up other people’s unwanted items.
Steel said the new fines, such as those implemented for littering cigarette butts, sends a strong message to the community about the impact of these items on the city.
“Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter on the planet, and have a significant impact on the environment releasing toxic chemicals and microplastics.
“With a hotter and drier climate, cigarettes present a real fire risk to our bush capital, with 13 per cent of grass fires in the ACT started by cigarettes,” Steel explained.
Hoarding around the territory will also be able to be better managed under this legislation, with the introduction of a staged approach addressing litter on private land.
“Hoarding can have serious safety risks to both to the occupants of the property with the hoarding issue and surrounding land. However, we also know that cases of extreme hoarding on private land are complex and sensitive, and often involve underlying mental health issues.
“The laws allow the government to enter a site to clean-up and abate the hoarding of litter when all other actions have been unsuccessful. Appropriate processes must be followed, including following a mandatory code of practice and an application to the ACT Magistrates Court,” Steel said.
The new framework does not criminalise the complex mental health issue of hoarding and the government will work closely with mental health and community organisations and experts in dealing with individual matters and the development of a code of practice.