Environmental News

KAB Week 2012

David Curtin - Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Queensland – “beautiful one place, filthy the next”

For the third year running Queensland is Australia’s most littered mainland state.

The poor result is highlighted in the National Litter Index 2012 report, released today by Keep Australia Beautiful to coincide with the start of Keep Australia Beautiful Week.

The report measures litter items and volumes at 983 sites across Australia and found Queensland (with measurements at 151 sites) had the most number of littered items of all mainland states.

CEO of Keep Australia Beautiful Queensland, Rick Burnett, said the result was “deplorable and had to be fixed.” 

“Littering is thoughtless and anti-social and people need continual reminders to stop doing it,” Burnett said. “That is where we are falling down – no awareness campaigns.”

KABQ congratulated some communities in Queensland for outstanding behavior.  “It is sadly contradictory that Caloundra and Tallebudgera won Australia’s tidiest town and cleanest beach awards in the past 12 months,” Burnett said.

“We are beautiful one place, and filthy in the next. Is this the motto we want for Queensland?

We need to have greater awareness and education about the benefits to the environment, and the costs in taxes and rates for keeping our state litter-free.”

Burnett said plastic again measured the highest volume of littered material in Australia.  “Plastic is the modern day poison of the planet.  It poses a threat to the environment and wildlife for hundreds of years, and we are being overrun by plastic bags, bottles and waste.”

Burnett welcomed a commitment by the new State Government to help KABQ in new litter prevention strategies.   “There are fines, and members of the public can ‘dob-in’ litterers, but few people realise that. The penalties need to be advertised and new messages need to be consistent and regular. I am assured the new State Government will be investing more money into litter prevention.”

“The previous government was neglectful, with no awareness campaigns in the media like the ‘Do the Right Thing’ campaign in the 80s and 90s.  A whole generation of young people has never seen a litter prevention advertisement. Now those kids are driving cars - and throwing their rubbish out the windows into our streets.”

Burnett said the focus for this year’s Keep Australia Beautiful Week campaign was highway and roadside litter. “I would like to see more signage along our highways – like road-safety signs – we need signs saying ‘don’t litter’ and ‘keep our roads and countryside litter free’.  It is hugely expensive to send council or Main Roads’ crews out to clean up remote areas – it is up to all of us to keep these places clean and litter-free.”

Burnett said there were many dedicated community groups joining the KAB Tidy Towns programs and Adopt-a-Road groups doing voluntary clean-ups, but motorists need to take more responsibility.

He welcomed the help of the RACQ in contacting its 1.2 million Queensland motoring members to impress on them to always carry litter bags in their cars. “Every car should have a litter bag that can be emptied into a bin at fuel stops, whilst fuel stations should all have a recycling bin for plastics, metals and glass.”

“We need to be really taking care of our environment, not messing it up. If we want to be proud of Queensland and welcome visitors and tourists to our wonderful natural attractions, we need to tidy up our act and show we care.” Burnett said.

Chairman of KABQ, Mr Brian Cohalan (former State manager of SITA Australia) said the Queensland litter record over the past three years was “disgraceful”.  “Littering is a social problem that requires constant attention and more state government support to combat,” Mr Cohalan said.


“If we stop littering we can save millions of dollars in maintenance and clean-up costs, so the State needs to consider those potential savings. Preventative measures are what Keep Australia Beautiful is about, to keep the environment clean, and we can all be part of that.”

The Hungry Jack’s ‘Bag it and Bin it’ program is Principal Sponsor of Keep Australia Beautiful Week, and will be targeting customers with the anti-litter message to remind them of the need to dispose of their packaging waste responsibly when on the road. 

For further information and tips on how you can help keep our highways litter free visit the KAB Week pages at www.kab.org.au

The National Litter Index 2012 report shows:

Australia’s littering has reduced in the past 12 months from an average of 61 items per 1000m2 to 58 and by volume from 6.49 litres per 1000m2 to 6.24.

Cigarette butts are the most littered by item and plastic is the highest by volume in Australia.

Queensland recorded 70 items of litter per 1000m2 in the 2011/12 count, an improvement on last year’s 78 items, but still well above the national average of 58. Tasmania was the only state worse than Queensland with 86. Victoria was best with 36.

In volumes, Queensland improved from 5.94 litres per 1000m2 last year, to 4.88 litres this year. Queenslanders tend to litter more smaller items (compared with fewer people littering larger items in other states).

Main litter types included: cigarette butts, plastic, paper packaging, metal and glass.

Nationally, retail areas were the most littered sites by item (147) followed by industrial (91), shopping centres (84), carparks (70), beaches (53), highways (46), residential (37) and parks (30).

In Queensland, highways were the most littered by volume (7.28 litres) followed by industrial (6.89), residential (5.24), and recreational parks (3.60). The remaining sites were all below 2.

Shopping centres showed the most improvement dropping from 201 items last year to 105 in 2012, whilst conversely, retail strips increased from 150 items last year to 182 in 2012.

Cigarette butts remained the most littered item (28 per 1000m2 nationally) with Queensland at 34, down from 41 in 2010/11.

Plastic and paper objects were the second and third most littered items in Queensland.



 Rick Burnett – CEO Keep Australia Beautiful Queensland 0419 460 782;  (07)3252 2886 or rick@kabq.org.au

Lara Shannon, KAB National Publicist on 0415 076 015 or laras@kab.org.au