Litter research

To provide leadership, the EPA studies the different dimensions of litter, including its impacts, the reasons why people litter and how to best prevent it. Regular research and monitoring help the EPA ensure NSW's litter laws and prevention strategies are working well, to better protect the community and the environment.

The cost of litter in NSW

In 2016, the NSW Government commissioned a study into the costs of litter that estimated the direct financial outlay incurred by the community for cleaning up litter in NSW. The findings are presented in Litter Costs to the NSW Economy – a preliminary report (PDF 2.2MB).

In 2021, research was developed into the indirect costs of litter. Indirect costs arise from the impacts of litter that is not cleaned up or that escapes into the wider environment before it can be cleaned up. To maximise the benefits of the research, the study covered the indirect costs of both littering and illegal dumping, which are treated in two reports that capture the different aspects of these costs:

EPA litter prevention kit

The EPA's litter prevention kits summarise research about littering and the behaviour behind it.

Litter leakage from waste collection services

In late 2021 a pilot study was conducted to explore the contribution of kerbside rubbish collections to litter generation.

The study used a count of litter pre and post rubbish bin collection and bin observations. Fieldwork centred on litter hotspots in the Canterbury Bankstown local government area (LGA). A considerable amount of litter was observed, with 43% of residential properties having litter on the front verge and footpath, even prior to rubbish collection. Paper and cardboard (45%) and soft plastics (43%) were the most littered items.

We are looking to revise the methodology and expand the study and scope across further NSW LGAs.

Effectiveness  of fines in reducing and preventing littering behaviour

In late 2021, we completed a report on the effectiveness of littering. Are fines for littering effective in reducing and preventing littering behaviour in NSW? (PDF 4.7MB) included a literature review, fine data analysis, surveys and interviews of state and local government agencies, and well as people who have been fined for littering. 
The report will inform NSW litter prevention strategies, future litter enforcement campaigns we run and support local with on-ground litter enforcement in NSW.

Vaping device use and recovery systems report

When disposed of incorrectly, vaping device components can enter our environment via the leaking of toxic substances from e-liquids and corrosive electrolytes, leaching of toxic heavy metals from electronic circuitry, cause plastic pollution and start fires from lithium-ion batteries. The Vaping device use and recovery systems report (PDF 2.6MB) helps us better understand and respond to an item that is increasingly entering our environment.

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