Litter and illegal dumping

The Victorian Litter Action Alliance was the peak body for litter management. In 2019, it was formally amalgamated into Sustainability Victoria. SV will continue supporting litter prevention programs, tool kits and resources across Victoria.

Sustainability Victoria supports state and local government, land managers and other partners to address litter and illegal dumping issues.

We are responsible for:

  • identifying litter priorities through the Victorian Litter Report Card
  • coordinating litter action plans to identify opportunities for leveraging greater outcomes from programs and activities (see the Victorian Litter Plan)
  • promoting activities in relation to litter across government and industry
  • monitoring trends in littering.

The Victorian Litter Action Alliance was the peak body for litter management and prevention in Victoria. Established in 2000, the alliance provided a coordinated approach to preventing litter across state and local government, industry and community sectors. In 2019, it was formally amalgamated into Sustainability Victoria.

Definition of litter

'Litter' includes any solid or liquid domestic or commercial waste, refuse, debris or rubbish and without limiting the generality of the above, includes any waste glass, metal, plastic, paper, fabric, wood, food, soil, sand, concrete or rocks, abandoned vehicles, abandoned vehicle parts and garden remnants and clippings, but does not include any gases, dust or smoke or any waste that is produced or emitted during, or as a result of, any of the normal operations of the mining, building or manufacturing industry or of any primary industry.

– Environmental Protection Act (1970), section 4 (1) inserted by no. 37/2002 s.38(1)

The Act (1970) binds various government authorities to enforce litter prevention. The Act allows for litter authorities to issue on-the-spot penalties, prosecute offenders, investigate the identity of offenders and issue notices to clean up. To compliment these state regulations, many local governments have their own local laws and permit conditions in relation to litter and dumping.

Who is littering?

  • Age: Young people are more likely to litter when they are in a group and older people are more likely to litter when they are alone
  • Gender: Men litter more than women, women use bins more than men
  • Group think: in a group of ten people in a public place, three will litter and seven will do the right thing
  • Smokers are particularly prone to littering
  • Aesthetic: People are more likely to litter in an already littered location

Most common reasons for littering are 'too lazy' (24%), 'no ashtray' (23%) or 'no bin' (21%). Some may be unaware, careless, seek convenience, or engage in premediated littering or illegal dumping.

Types of littering

The way people are littering can be described by the following:

  • Foul Shooting — Litter is thrown at but misses the bin – the person walks away
  • Clean Sweeping — Litter left behind by others on the table gets swept onto the ground
  • Flagrant Flinging — Without any apparent concern, litter is thrown into the air or simply dropped
  • 90%ing / Dual Depositing — Most rubbish is put into a bin, but some is left behind
  • Wedging — Stuffing pieces of litter into gaps, such as between seats
  • Grinding — Smokers who grind their cigarettes into the ground
  • Inching — Litter is left behind as the culprit slowly moves away from it
  • Undertaking — Litter is buried, often under beach sand.

Impact of litter on behaviour

Research in 2007 found that people living in clean places felt safer, used more leisure facilities in the area, had friends more likely to visit and had a better quality of life.

Conversely, people tended to feel more unsafe in littered areas. Littered areas tend to attract graffiti, bill posting, antisocial behaviour and crime.

Littered areas send a signal that no one cares for the area and no one is in charge, leading to a series of increasingly disorderly and criminal acts.

Litter Action Task Force

A Litter Action Task Force is a vital part of a litter prevention program. Set one up yourself with this guide.

Use DumpInData to record litter

DumpInData is a free program for local councils, government agencies and other land managers to track and assess litter and illegal dumping in Victoria.

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