KESAB Litter Index

The KESAB Litter Index shows the types of litter, and different site types where littering occurs, providing South Australia with an indicator of trends relative to any increase or reduction of litter pollution.

Data allows KESAB and participating program Partners to identify appropriate education and engagement strategies to underpin our continual efforts to influence change in response to the combination of lightweight disposable packaging and poor behaviour by consumers.

The Litter Index counts by item and estimated volume across 151 sites throughout South Australia (84 Metro, 67 Country) in May and November each year. The May count is used as the benchmark for the purpose of the KESAB Annual Report. Full KESAB Litter Index reports are available on the KESAB website

Items as proportions of total by material type

Proportion of total litter items counted within site type

Sites and types of litter are counted across a 1000 sqm area by trained litter counters working to specified procedures and reporting practices. Sites are regularly reviewed in context of category and physical changes which may impact on data consistency e.g.; new highway, shopping complex, open space to residential.

Litter is observed and counted, but not picked up. Methodology embracing pick up of litter after a site is counted is an option for future “controlled research” trials.

The KESAB developed count methodology facilitates the National Litter Index and Branded Litter Study which is conducted in collaboration with the Keep Australia Beautiful National Association.

Currently the KABNA NLI is being reviewed with respective State and Territory Jurisdictions with a view to enhancing data collection and information. This is very relevant to interstate jurisdictions who will implement beverage container deposit systems and banning of plastic bag legislation during the 17/18 period.

The KESAB Litter Index is increasingly important as the benchmark of litter by count and volume in South Australia, especially in context of reflecting outcomes of behavioural change and awareness through stronger enforcement under the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act which came into effect February 2017. This Annual Report includes access details to the “Dob in a Litterer” summarised data which can be downloaded from the South Australian Government Data Directory.

Cigarette butts continue to be the most littered item (34%), and highway sites are the most littered (29%). Compared to the May 2016 Litter Index report butts (43%) and highways (28%), the data shows some variation.

15.3% Litter Reduction

KESAB Litter Index findings show a reduction in litter for the 2016 – 2017 period of 15.3% (May ’17 count = 9,354 items > May ’16 count = 11,044 items).

Analysis of the data highlights four factors that influence this considerable reduction:

  1. KESAB Litter Less and Litter Kills education programs and campaigns, combined with the reincarnation of BAZZA the Bunyip travelling road show through the Murray River Regions, and ongoing strong performance by KESAB Road Watch Groups are impacting through increased awareness and influencing better litter disposal behaviour in the community;
  2. Severe weather conditions in October and November 2016 showed that such events influence physical impact reducing the number of litter items in the litter stream, November 2016 Litter Index being the lowest recorded count in almost two decades of data collection;
  3. Dob in a Litterer enforcement legislation was implement in February 2017. Whilst there was a three month sunset period wherein expiations were not issued, a total of 594 Reports were considered by the EPA in the 2017 Feb – June period;
  4. Cigarette butts by count contribute significantly to the total litter stream. Any variance on the number of butts counted in each period impact on increase or decrease of other litter in proportional percentage terms of other litter stream items e.g.; paper, plastic.
    An example of variance influenced by cigarette butts counted is demonstrated in the May 16 (4,701), November 16 (2,766), and May 17 (3,214) Litter Index. Unseasonal high rain events in Nov 16 had some influence in less butts being counted in May 17 compared to May 16, resulting in an increase in percentage of paper (23% > 28%) and plastic (25% > 27%) items and but not necessarily increasing the number of items counted.

Litter Index Reports

For a complete data set visit: