The Results are in!
Overall, we are making in roads on reducing litter, but there is still a long way to go across Australia. The 2016/17 Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index reported that there was a 4.3% reduction in litter than counted in the 2015/16 monitor. The national litter index surveys 983 sites across Australia, with an area surveyed of approximately 1.5 million square metres. The primary focus is across suburban areas in major cities however there are a number of regional/rural sites are also surveyed. 76 rural highway/road sites are surveyed and reported separately. National Litter Index
Key points from the 2016/17 Index;
- In terms of items counted, the biggest contributions to the reduction in litter came from South Australia (-23.5%) and Western Australia (-22.6%), ACT and Victoria also had reductions in litter. There were increased litter counts in NSW, NT, Queensland and Tasmania.
- Several categories experienced a reduction with the most significant declines being in other glass (-13.8%), cigarette litter (-9.9%) and general other litter items (-6.3%). This result is a continuation of a longer term trend of reducing litter levels and because the reductions across categories were similar there has been little change in the relative composition of the litter stream.
- Taking into account the area monitored, retail strips have the highest litter loads with an average 97 items counted per 1000 square metres. The lowest littered sites are recreational parks with an average 20 items per 1000 sq metres.
- Cigarettes, beverage containers and takeaway food packaging represent two-thirds (66%) of all the litter counted across the country. Plastic bags represent 1% with the remaining other categories making up the balance. Cigarette related litter remains the dominant source of litter found across Australia (although there has been a consistent fall in items counted over a number of years). NSW, Tas and Vic are the only states who did not see a fall in cigarette litter in 2016/17.
- Litter levels on beaches increased by 15.9% and increased in recreational parks by 7.7%. All other types of sites surveyed were found to have less litter. The greatest reduction was seen in residential streets (-8.7%), major roads/highways (-7.8%), retail precincts (-7.6%) and shopping centres (-6.9%).
- At beach sites , with only one or two exceptions, cigarette and takeaway food packaging are the two biggest contributors and represent 56% of all litter found on the beach. Furthermore, the top 3 categories represent approximately 70% of all litter found on beaches. The biggest contributors to the rise in beach litter counted were the NT (+222.6%), Queensland (+54.9%), Tasmania (+42.5%), ACT (+28.8%) and NSW (+9.8%).
- Reductions occurred across all categories on major roads/highways with the most significant falls seen in cigarette, takeaway food packaging and general other litter. Litter fell in most states and territories, with the exception of the ACT and NSW which observed small increases, and in Queensland where a larger rise (29%) was observed. The Northern Territory (40.7%), South Australia (26.2%) and Western Australia (21%) were the main contributors to the falls in items counted.
- In recreational parks (increase of 7.7%), the main contributors to the increase were the NT (87.9%) and Western Australia (40%). The largest fall was recorded in Tasmania (-44%). The largest increases were seen in cigarette litter, takeaway food packaging and other paper.