Most items that get dumped illegally can be disposed of at waste transfer and recycling centres for free or minimal cost. So why do we see so much illegal dumping?
“Most people simply don’t know about the waste disposal options available to them,” explained Danielle Lisle, Waste Education Officer at Bass Coast Shire Council.
“We wanted to take adults on a behind-the-scenes journey – to follow their waste and see where it ends up. We wanted to educate and inspire them, so they would feel compelled to share what they’ve learned. In this way, our follow your waste tours would help spread the word about alternatives to illegal dumping.
“To combat illegal dumping at known hotspots, we also installed signs with messaging to reinforce the idea that illegal dumping is socially unacceptable.”
“We sent flyers to community groups, inviting them to book themselves into one of 20 follow your waste tours.
“We used groups like Rotary, Lions and Probus in the hope that these influential members of society would spread the word about what can be dropped off at transfer stations for free.
“Unfortunately, we did not get much interest and only ran three community group tours. We then opened up the offer to local schools and ran a further seven tours with primary school students.
“We had budgeted for 400 adult community members, but only had 35. Most councils running similar programs have a good uptake, so it was a shame we couldn’t get the numbers to test whether our tour would affect illegal dumping.”
“For those that did come, we had great feedback on the design and delivery of tours. One customer was so inspired they wrote an article for the local paper. Another not only changed her attitude to waste but to the whole council because she could see how much work goes on behind the scenes. She said she is now doing her best to divert everything she can from landfill.
“Tours were run by transfer station staff rather than the council. This allowed staff to show off what they do and get people excited about the importance of waste management. This sense of ownership was then reinforced by the positive feedback from customers.
“The schools enjoyed the tours and it was positive for their environment and sustainability classes and our relationship with the schools.
“In hindsight, we should have involved the council’s communications team in the marketing design process to help promote the tours more widely. We wrote to community groups twice and put out a media release but clearly this wasn’t enough.
“The council’s Facebook page would be a good way to reach the community, as could local radio advertisements and posters at transfer stations.”
The other component of the project was installing signs across 10 illegal dumping hotspots. We used a similar design to a UK-based litter project using a set of glow-in-the-dark eyes with the wording: ‘Rubbish dumping is a crime, who’s watching you?’
“We had 49 incidents of illegal dumping across the 10 hotspots in 2015 and 2016. We had only five recorded incidents of illegal dumping in 2017 which suggests that the signs have reduced illegal dumping behaviour across the 10 sites.”
“We will not run the tours again due to the low uptake. The signs do seem to have reduced dumping at hotspots so these will stay in place. They can be relocated if new hotspots pop up.
“We will keep exploring other ways to help the community dispose of waste correctly to keep the Bass Coast clean now and in the future.”
Contact Danielle Lisle, Waste Education Officer at Bass Coast Shire Council on (03) 5671 2132 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Receive monthly emails about the latest news & events