School students and CCTV helping reduce illegal dumping in the City of Kingston

Case study

Project information

  • Name: Don’t Waste Our Green Wedge
  • Lead: City of Kingston Council
  • Themes: illegal dumping, schools, waste tours

In a curious case of reverse illegal dumping, a van driver was observed unloading large tyres on the side of the road, before picking them up, putting them back in the van and driving away.

Two photos, both taken by a surveillance camera. The photo on the left shows a person opening a van and preparing to dump tyres by the side of the toad. The photo on the right shows the van shut against, 50 seconds late, with the person presumably deciding not to dump the typres after spoting the surveillance camera

What prompted this community-minded change of heart? Most likely, him noticing the camera recording his every move.

“We’ve seen more and more illegal dumping in our green wedge area, particularly around Clayton South,” explained Tim Scott, Team Leader of Maintenance Contracts and Waste at City of Kingston. “Ironically, it’s a perfect spot for dumping rubbish – quiet, secluded and close to residential and industrial areas.”

Rubbish left by the side of the road in Clayton South after illegal dumping

Pictured: A dumping ‘hot spot’ in Clayton South that has seen increasing amounts of illegally dumped rubbish.

“With funding from Sustainability Victoria, we were able to install four surveillance cameras in dumping hot spots,” said Tim. “We also ran other activities to educate schools, residents and businesses on the cost of illegal dumping, how to report it and how to dispose of waste properly.

“We’ve seen substantially smaller piles of rubbish being dumped and spent about 80 per cent less on removing rubbish so far in 2018–19.”

Surveillance challenges

“It took much longer than expected to research and set up the cameras to work effectively. One camera was faulty and had to be returned to the US for repair.

“The cameras were also very sensitive to wind and took numerous photos due to nearby grass, branches, bushes and trees moving. The City of Kingston maintenance team cut back branches and mowed lawns regularly near the cameras, to reduce the number of unnecessary images.

“We moved the cameras every few weeks to cover more hot spot areas. Most of the remaining rubbish is being dumped away from cameras so it seems that surveillance and litter signage is a big factor in reducing dumping.”

Reconyx camera installed behind a telephone phone on the side of the road in Clayton South

Pictured: A Reconyx camera installed in Clayton South.

Motivating students

“To get schools involved and promote the project more widely in the community, we ran a competition asking students to design a poster that would be turned into a roadside banner to be displayed in the target streets in Clayton South,” explained Tim.

“Two lucky winners out of 248 entrants won a $100 movie voucher and a $450 sustainability pack for their schools. Teachers agreed this was a great way to get students talking about the negative effects of illegal dumping.

“The banners are still in use and can also be used community events.”

Pictured: The two winning poster designs in the primary school competition.

Spreading the message

“To amplify our message, we ran a media campaign and created a ‘Keep Kingston Clean’ brochure, which we posted to residents and businesses around the hot spot area. The brochure encourages residents to report dumped rubbish, book a hard waste collection and reinforces that those who illegally dump rubbish will be caught and prosecuted.”

“We also organised a community transfer station tour to raise awareness of how to dispose of or give away quality items rather than sending to landfill. If we were to run the project again, I’d suggest organising waste management presentations and tours with specific community groups such as Probus Clubs, Men’s Sheds, English as a Second Language (ESL) groups and local business groups.”

Next steps

“We will keep monitoring illegal dumping with the four cameras installed during the project. The council plans to buy more cameras to cover other locations.

“The roadside banners will also stay, and we now have our illegal dumping brochure to hand out to residents.

“We did see anecdotal reports of increased illegal dumping in neighbouring council areas. We don’t know if our project caused this rubbish to be displaced from one location to another. Future programs could involve neighbouring councils to expand the reach and prevent this from happening. After all, illegal dumping affects us all and we need to work together to protect our green spaces.”

More information

Contact Tim Scott, Team Leader Maintenance Contracts and Waste, City of Kingston on 03 9581 4358 or tim.scott@kingston.vic.gov.au.