What is litter?

Litter is anything that is left by accident or deliberately in the wrong place. It is illegal in Queensland to litter (or illegally dump waste or materials, including appliances, car bodies or furniture).

It's a reputation no Queenslander would be proud of.

Our beautiful State has been named the most littered State of Australia, according to the National Litter Index (NLI) 2013/14 results, released by the Keep Australia Beautiful network.

Litter cleanup costs Australia more than $1 billion annually, with local/state governments paying for approximately 80%, businesses, schools and other organisations picking up the remaining 20%. Tax and rate payers money would be better spent on improving roads, transport, education and health programs.

The cost of cleaning up litter is high, but so are the environmental consequences!

The first step in the process of reducing litter and littering is an awareness of the scope of items that can be considered litter. The single most common litter item in Australia is cigarette butts. Other include paper, food wrappers, fast-food packaging, plastic bags, plastic straws and beverage containers.

Effects of litter

  • Litter costs money. More than $20 million is spent in QLD each year to cleanup litter.
  • Litter is a threat to public health. It attracts vermin and is a breeding ground for bacteria. Items such as broken glass and syringes can be a health hazard in public spaces.
  • Litter harms our waterways. Organic matter, such as dog poo, leaves and grass clippings pollutes our waterways, can cause blockages of the drainage system and flooding.
  • Litter can be a fire hazard. Accumulated litter and carelessly discarded cigarette butts are potential fire hazards.
  • Litter can harm or kill wildlife. Plastic litter can choke or suffocate animals. Carelessly discarded containers can trap small mammals. Litter in our streets and parks can travel through the stormwater system to our creeks, rivers and eventually our oceans, where it can cause harm to wildlife.
  • Litter is ugly. Litter negatively affects the image of our communities, especially our tourist locations.
  • Litter is magnetic. Litter sends out a message that people do not care for the environment and that it is acceptable to litter.

Litter control is one area where the individual can actively make a positive difference to the environment. Keep Queensland Beautiful is instrumental in bringing about behaviour change and litter control but the community - the individual - must be behind any action to prevent and minimise litter.