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NSW government develops cigarette butt litter reduction program

NSW is developing its first targeted cigarette butt litter reduction program after a trial showed targeted interventions could prevent more than 790 million cigarette butts polluting the environment each year.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) announced the move on December 13.

According to the department, cigarette butts are the most littered item in NSW, making up almost 4 of every 10 littered items. Current data suggests only 40 per cent of cigarette butts are put in the bin, with more than 1.3 billion butts entering the litter stream each year.

In 2018 the NSW Litter Prevention Unit worked with 16 councils trialling different interventions at 40 smoking hotspots including transport hubs, shopping strips, parks, outside licensed venues and office blocks.

DPIE executive director circular economy and resource management Sanjay Sridher said this was the most comprehensive review of smoker behaviour ever conducted in Australia.

“The results of our world-first intervention trials are fantastic with an overall 53 per cent improvement in binning rates. The NSW Litter Prevention Unit is now using the trial results for a new litter program targeting cigarette butts,” Sridher said.

“If we introduce this right across NSW, it would mean round 795 million more cigarette butts going in the bin and staying out of the environment.

“We know that nine out of 10 people in NSW think littering is unacceptable and we’re encouraging everyone to do the right thing with their rubbish.”

City of Ryde mayor Jerome Laxale said Ryde recorded great results in the trial interventions to reduce cigarette butt litter at sites at Meadowbank Train Station, West Ryde, and Top Ryde City Shopping Centre.

All three sites showed significant improvements in cigarette butt binning rates of between 26-48 per cent.

“Council will be utilising the results of the trial to install similar messaging and methods of reducing cigarette butt litter in target hotspot locations throughout Ryde. The City of Ryde continually works to provide a ‘Smarter, Cleaner, Greener’ environment for the community and this initiative will contribute to meeting our goals,” Laxale said.

The new Cigarette Butt Litter Prevention Program includes the delivery of guidelines and resources, a review of existing litter enforcement strategies, and a targeted behaviour change campaign with the highly recognised Don’t Be A Tosser! campaign.