Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Waste and resource recovery

Illegal waste dumping

Illegal dumping is a crime
Encourage your local community to report incidents to local councils
Environment Line on 131 555
NSW Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000

What is illegal waste dumping?

Illegal dumping of waste is an environmental crime that is ongoing and a highly visible problem in NSW. It is the unlawful deposit of waste larger than litter onto land or into water. It includes waste materials that have been dumped, tipped or otherwise deposited onto land where no licence or approval exists to accept such waste. Illegal dumping varies from small bags of rubbish in an urban environment to larger scale dumping of waste materials in isolated areas, such as bushland.

Illegal dumping includes illegal landfilling, which is waste used as fill material with the consent of the owner or occupier of the land but without the necessary council or Environment Protection Authority (EPA) approvals.

Combating illegal dumping is a NSW Government priority.

Goal 22 (Protect our Natural Environment) in NSW 2021 identifies the reduction in illegal dumping as a priority. The NSW EPA has a strategic waste enforcement and compliance program. It also supports and provides assistance to public land managers and councils to help them combat illegal dumping.

Resources to help prevent and clean up illegal dumping

Illegal dumping is an ongoing and highly visible problem in NSW. It can occur in city and country areas and on public and privately owned land. A fence or physical barrier can stop illegal dumping on small land parcels but land managers are often faced with dealing with illegal dumping on very large and remote land parcels.

Land managers need to be persistent in their effects against illegal dumping. Put simply there is no quick fix but a persistent effort is needed. The EPA has developed a series of resources to help public land managers, local councils, and Aboriginal Land Councils to plan and implement actions to prevent and clean up the illegal dumping of waste.

Some of the qualities of successful programs that can help combat illegal dumping include:

  • strong leadership and support from others such as cooperation from other authorities and the community
  • implementing a strategic approach that includes routine clean up and site maintenance
  • monitoring and assessing the illegal dumping program to help gain support for future action
  • publicising clean-up efforts as cooperative initiatives
  • sharing successes with others.

These qualities help validate participation, gain additional support and allow others to benefit from lessons learned.

For public land managers

In November 2012, the EPA launched an online illegal dumping resource to help public land managers and local councils prevent and clean up illegal dumping. The resource consolidates submissions from the consultation draft of the handbook on illegal dumping prevention and clean up for public land managers.

For local councils

Local councils play a crucial role in managing and preventing illegal dumping in their local areas. The EPA has developed a number of resources to assist local authorities in developing actions to target and so prevent illegal dumping. The EPA has also carried out research into illegal dumping that authorities can use to when planning campaigns against illegal dumping.

Other resources available for councils to use in tackling illegal dumping:

Educational brochures include:

For Aboriginal communities

Illegal dumping is an ongoing and highly visible problem in NSW. It can occur in city and country areas and on public and privately owned land. Aboriginal land is particularly susceptible to illegal dumping because it is often located in remote areas. Illegally dumped waste can cause damage to land, waters and culture and can be a health risk to the community.

The EPA has developed resources and a funding program to assist Aboriginal communities to clean up and prevent illegal waste dumping. These include:

For landowners

The EPA has developed a number of resources that landowners should read and understand before accepting fill on their land. Contaminated fill can risk the health of families, permanently devalue property and result in substantial clean-up costs. Fines for illegally using waste as fill may also be hefty.

The following resources provide advice on avoiding the dangers of accepting fill:

For waste transporters and the waste industry

Waste transporters and the waste industry have a responsibility to ensure that waste is transported to, or disposed of at, facilities that can lawfully receive it. The EPA has developed a number of fact sheets and resources to provide waste transporters with the relevant information required to lawfully transport waste:


The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) provides a tiered range of illegal dumping offence provisions/fines. They are:

Tier 3 - on-the-spot fines

  • $750 on-the-spot fine for individuals for illegal dumping up to a maximum of $1500
  • $1500 on-the-spot fines for corporations for illegal dumping up to a maximum of $5000

Tier 2 - use of land as waste facility without lawful authority

  • Maximum penalty in the case of an individual: $250,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, a further penalty of $60,000 for each day the offence continues
  • Maximum penalty in the case of a corporation: $1,000,000 and in the case of a continuing offence, a further daily penalty of $120,000

Tier 1 - disposal of waste: harm to the environment

  • Maximum penalty in the case of an individual: $1,000,000 and/or 7 years' imprisonment
  • Maximum penalty in the case of a corporation: $5,000,000

To report illegal dumping, please call the EPA's Environment Line on 131 555.

Page last updated: 12 November 2014