Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Waste and recycling

Littering – frequently asked questions

What if you can't find a bin?

Ultimately, people need to take responsibility for their own litter. If you can't find a bin, you need to keep the litter until you can find a bin.

Apple cores are biodegradable. Are they OK?

Even biodegradable items can contribute to water pollution by causing toxic algal outbreaks and sucking the oxygen out of rivers as they decay. If possible, you should try and compost these items. If not, they need to go in the bin.

Is it OK to litter where someone is paid to clean up?

No, it's not OK to litter on such occasions. People are responsible for their own litter.

Doesn't littering keep sweepers and cleaners in jobs?

If people littered less, sweepers and cleaners could be used in more productive activities, e.g. cleaning rather than picking up rubbish.

Do the litter laws deal with posters on buildings or telegraph poles?

No. Bill postering involves the unlawful or unwanted attachment of a poster to private and public infrastructure. The application of the littering offences, under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, only become relevant where the offending poster has fallen off, or is likely to fall off, creating litter.

There is a single piece of legislation, the Graffiti Control Act 2008 (Act), to deal with unauthorised bill posters. Under the Act it is an offence to affix a bill poster without first obtaining the consent of the property owner. Currently, the bill posting offence under Section 6 of the Act may attract a fine of $440.

Do the litter laws cover syringes?

Yes, littering syringes is specifically defined as aggravated or dangerous littering.

The NSW Government is taking a range of actions on syringes. For instance, you can call the needle clean-up hotline on 1800 633 353. All needles provided through needle exchange services come with a safe disposal mechanism. The bottom line here is that the litter laws give the community improved protection from discarded syringes.

More information

Public reporting of littering from a vehicle – questions and answers

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Page last updated: 19 May 2016