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Litter prevention program working – NSW EPA

An independent evaluation of the state’s Litter Prevention Program has shown litter has reduced by 43 per cent as part of the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) successful Waste Less, Recycle More campaigns since 2012.

The EPA has received a positive evaluation of its nine-year Litter Prevention Program that shows the reductions in rubbish surpassed the former Premier’s Priority 2020 40 per cent target and has allowed us to set ambitious future litter reduction targets.

EPA Executive Director, Engagement, Education and Programs, Liesbet Spanjaard said this encouraging result has enabled the setting of a new target of reducing litter by a further 60 per cent by 2030, outlined in the Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041.

“Over-achieving on the former Premier’s Priority target and reducing litter by 43 per cent enables us to continue to expand on the successful path that the Waste Less Recycle More campaigns have laid out,” Spanjaard said.

“The independent evaluation demonstrates that the Litter Prevention Program is providing value for money.  Evidence in the report indicates that the program provides a net economic benefit to the people of NSW both through direct savings on litter clean-up and through indirect effects of improved amenity in communities and reduced environmental harm.”

Read more: New tool to drive material footprint change

Highlights of the nine-year $50 million Litter Prevention Program include:

The introduction and success of Return and Earn, the NSW Container Deposit Scheme
Introduced in 2017 as an initiative to reduce beverage containers, already over 6.5 billion containers have been returned through the scheme’s network of over 620 return points. Return and Earn has contributed to an overall 52 per cent reduction in the volume of drink container rubbish in NSW in the last four years and has provided over $28 million in fundraising revenue for charities and community groups.

An innovative marine litter campaign
To reduce the growth of rubbish in our waterways and oceans and its detrimental effect on marine life, we launched an exciting marine litter campaign in March 2021. The campaign features Rocky the Lobster and his band, Rage against the Polystyrene with the new smash hit Don’t be a Tosser song. The initiative builds on the successful Don’t be A Tosser Campaign.

Stand-out results from the world-leading Cigarette Butt Litter Prevention Trial
In 2018, the EPA led a collaborative behaviour change trial in partnership with 16 local councils to understand what strategies are effective in reducing cigarette butt littering behaviour. Outcomes show binning rates increased from 38 per cent to 58 per cent (a 53 per cent increase in binning behaviour). For some strategies a peak binning rate of 76 per cent was achieved (a 144 per cent increase in binning behaviour).