KESAB Litter Index

Roadside litter collected by KESAB volunteer Gavin Smith and trusty friend Doggo
Roadside litter collected by KESAB volunteer Gavin Smith and trusty friend Doggo


The KESAB Litter Index collects important litter Information. Data includes type and location of litter items and measurements include count and volume of items. Monitoring is conducted in May and November each year, with the May count used as the benchmark for annual Litter Index KPIs.

The data provides a sound information base in terms of littering trends and behaviour, and the information can be used for the development of targeted community education and awareness campaigns.

Litter Index Overview (May 2018 – May 2019)

A total of 6,918 litter items were counted across the 151 South Australian sites during Wave 77 (May 2019). This figure is lower than the November 2018 (Wave 76) count of 7,270 items, and also below that conducted in May 2018 (Wave 75), of 7,504 items.

Cigarette butts remained the main contributor (2,209 items counted = 32%), down from 2,768 butts counted in May 2018.

Litter types that experienced increases in the litter stream during the period include:

  • Plastic – take away cups
  • Plastic – straws
  • Plastic – lollipop sticks
  • Paper / board – cups and take away containers
  • Paper / board – coffee cups.

The impact of convenience and take away consumer products in the plastic litter stream is reflected in the number of snack bags and wrappers (314), bottle tops (237), straws (199) and take away cups (192).

Litter Volume

The total volume of litter recorded at the 151 sites across South Australia for May 2019 (Wave 77) was 0.810 cubic metres. This was less than the 1.120 cubic metres recorded in May 2018 (Wave 75).

The largest proportion of litter volume recorded in Wave 77 was plastic items with 30% of the total estimated volume (up from 25% in Wave 75 May 2018). Plastics and paper/paperboard contributed jointly to over 60% of total proportion of litter by volume.

KESAB Litter Index May 2019 (Wave 77)

Items as Proportions of Total by Material Type

Proportion of Total Litter Items Counted Within Site Type

Litter Volume as a Proportion of Total Volume

Full Wave 77 May 2019 Report available:

CSIRO National Litter Index Review

The CSIRO National Litter Index (NLI) Review was commissioned by respective State and Territory jurisdictions in collaboration with KESAB and KABN.

KESAB and KABN are yet to consider or respond to recommendations. The objective of the review was to ensure the NLI, Australia’s foremost trend line litter research, reflects continuous improvement and rigour embracing methodology and changes in packaging and littering behaviour.

From a South Australian perspective, the need to review sites and litter types responds to current consultation and issues pertinent to Container Deposit Legislation, Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act review, and illegal dumping and Single Use Plastics Ban options being considered by the South Australian Government.

Branded Litter Study

The Branded Litter Study (BLS) is a KABN initiative underscoring the Litter Index that was observed and recorded in the May and November NLI counts.

BLS is not reported in 2018 – 2019 although the data was collected at the time of undertaking the NLI count. The data has been archived for future access and analysis and it will be re-visited following findings and recommendations identified following an independent CSIRO review of the NLI (coordinated by GISA).

Despite the above deferment of the BLS, the KESAB litter Index highlights the Top 20 contributing item types and site locations in the litter stream. This data allows KESAB to analyse the context of behaviour and demographic of offender and to categorise litter brands and potential sources.

Top 20 Categories - Highest Counts

Perception of Cleanliness

Perception of Cleanliness