Frequently asked questions about the campaign

Background

Why do we need a litter prevention campaign?

The NSW community consistently identifies littering as an area of environmental concern. Litter damages our natural environments, harms wildlife and sea creatures, can injure people and makes our spaces less safe and healthy.

Litter education and awareness campaigns are an essential element of successful litter prevention. The ‘Don’t be a Tosser!’ campaign is an effective strategy to change behaviour.

Moreover, the state-wide campaign is used local councils, communities as well as other Government agencies, meaning there is a consistent, and unified message on litter prevention.

Is the campaign effective in preventing litter?

Yes, education is a key component of behaviour change and part of an integrated approach to litter prevention aimed at raising awareness and education the NSW community to change their behaviour.

The campaign works in combination with clean-ups,  enforcement  and improved infrastructure such as new butt bins and rubbish bins. Since the latest campaign began in 2013-14 we have seen Litter in NSW reduce by over 40 per cent.

Why run another litter campaign – don’t people already know not to litter?

Previous litter prevention campaigns have been successful in educating the community that littering is wrong, and research now shows that most people know that littering is wrong, however people continue to litter.

Research has also shown that people are more likely to litter if they think they aren’t being watched, hence the call-out ‘Don’t be a Tosser!' The campaign reinforces the right behaviour, which is required until the social norm to not litter is established.

About the campaign

How was the campaign developed?

The ‘Hey Tosser!’ campaign began in 2014 and has since evolved to become the 'Don't be a Tosser!’ campaign as research showed that the 'Tosser!' concept needed to be reinvigorated to further develop the conversation with the community.

The EPA’s anti-litter campaigns have achieved excellent results, raising awareness of the litter problem to an extremely high degree.

Key findings from the research are:

  • The Tosser! concept still has significant potential. 94% approve of the Tosser message.
  • The Tosser! concept is well-liked and there is a strong association between a ‘tosser’ and littering.
  • Key littering behaviours and attitudes remained unchanged – people know littering is wrong and they do it when they think no one is looking.
  • The campaign needs to build the credibility of being fined, and convey that reporting is important.
  • The campaign needs to overcome the perception of reporting being ‘un-Australian’, or hypocritical.
  • Key behaviour to focus on is littering when no-one is looking, because that is the social norm.
  • The new campaign allows the audience to identify with the litterer, not the witness.
    Source: IPSOS, Hey Tosser Research, 2017; Anomaly post campaign research, 2017 & Cadreon post campaign research April 2019

What does the campaign aim to do?

The objective of the campaign is the same as previous phases, to establish a new social norm in NSW to not litter.

Who does the campaign target?

The campaign targets people 18+ as research has shown that anyone can be a litterer and that there is no ‘typical’ litterer. The creative features the top littered items and includes a variety of genders, ethnicities and ages to reach a broad audience.

What is the concept of the campaign?

The campaign is based on research that shows we need to continue to evolve the conversation with the community about litter. The Don’t be a Tosser! campaign builds on the ‘Hey Tosser!’ approach and evolves the conversation into an internal dialogue.

The aim is to make the audience recognise themselves and feel something. 

Key components of the campaign:

  • The campaign no longer focuses on using the witness to drive behaviour change but is designed to place responsibility for littering on the individual, to encourage people to think about their actions.
  • The concept is playful and eye catching, with the reintroduction of the ‘Don’t be a Tosser!’ messaging.
  • This message gives people a choice to NOT be a ‘Tosser!’ – with the tag ‘Don’t be a Tosser!’ reinforcing positive behaviour.
  • Use of humour allows for a stronger message.
  • The emotional/humorous reaction helps to cement the campaign image and message in people's mind to do the right thing.
  • The campaign employs a number of ‘excuses’ that have been devised (and tested) to reflect what litterers say to themselves to justify their littering.
  • Excuses are used ironically, stating the silly excuses we use to litter.
  • The tagline ‘If it’s not in the bin, it’s on you’ is a friendlier method of saying ‘put it in the bin’.

What does the campaign look like?

The creative materials have been designed to convey the single-minded proposition to 'Put your rubbish in the bin'.

The creative is bright, bold and energetic; incorporating both irony and humour. Visual devices are used to reflect an internal dialogue that littering is not nice or comfortable, and you can easily solve that feeling by putting your rubbish in the bin.

Is there a campaign for CALD and Indigenous communities?

Yes. The EPA has also developed specific campaign materials for CALD audiences.

The CALD creative is part of the ‘Don’t be a Tosser! If it’s not in the bin, it’s on you’ campaign. The phrase ‘Don’t be a Tosser! If it’s not in the bin, it’s on you’ is not used as this does not translate clearly.

Post campaign research had previously identified that the excuses on the CALD creative were seen as a justification for their litter behaviour. For this reason, the excuse quotes have been removed to avoid confusion/misinterpretation. 

The messaging is therefore more direct and simple 'Your rubbish is your responsibility. Put your rubbish in the bin' and is clearly understood across the four languages (Source: Cadreon post campaign research April 2019).

The creative is available in the top four languages (other than English) spoken in New South Wales – Arabic, Vietnamese Mandarin and Simplified Chinese.

Litter campaign materials have also been developed for indigenous communities.

Why were these characters chosen for use in the campaign?

Research shows that there is no ‘typical’ litterer. Therefore, a range of characters representative of the population across NSW are featured in the campaign. The campaign targets everyone, because anyone can be a litterer.

Why were the ‘excuses’ chosen for the campaign?

For our main campaign, the most commonly used excuses for littering were taken from pre and post campaign research, since 2012. These excuses were tested in focus groups during the campaign development. The excuses used in the campaign were the most effective. They provided the best balance between making participants feel guilty for their actions (littering), while also making them think: That really is a ridiculous excuse. There is no excuse for my actions (littering). The answer is simple – to put it in the bin.

Why has the NSW Government used the word ‘Tosser’?

The ‘Don’t be a Tosser! If it’s not in the bin, it’s on you’ campaign message was built on the previous ‘Don’t be a Tosser!’ and ‘Hey Tosser!’ campaigns which ran in NSW in 2000 –2003 and 2013 – 2017 respectively.

The message was researched through urban and regional focus groups in 2012, where the ‘Tosser’ concept was the most effective litter message tested. People considered it a clever play on words and thought it summed up how people feel about litterers.

Further research has identified 94% approve of the ‘Tosser!’ message (Cadreon post campaign research April 2019).

The ‘Tosser!’ concept is well-liked and there is a strong association between a ‘tosser’ and littering.

Broader Litter Program & other NSW Government Initiatives

What other programs is the government delivering to prevent litter?

The campaign is part of the broader NSW Litter Prevention Strategy which outlines a range of initiatives to reduce litter.

These include:

  • The Report to EPA littering from vehicle program - now with over 50,000 register litter reporters.
  • A grants program, which has provided over $9 million in grants to councils and communities since 2013 for new infrastructure, to clean-up hot spot sites, educate the community and undertake enforcement.
  • The NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, targets drink containers, one of the largest sources of plastic litter. Return and Earn has collected over 5 billion containers since it began in 2017.

Why is litter a Government priority as opposed to promoting zero waste and source reduction initiatives?

The NSW Government supports a broad range of waste reduction and source control initiatives. The Waste Less, Recycle More initiative has provided over $802 million in funding for business recycling, organics collection, market development, managing problem wastes, new waste infrastructure, research and development, and illegal dumping.

The Government will shortly release the 20 Year Waste Strategy which will provide a long-term strategic focus where communities, industry and all levels of government work together to reduce waste, increase recycling, plan for future infrastructure and create new markets for recycled products.

As part of the 20 Year Waste Strategy the Government will also shortly be releasing the NSW Plastics Plan to provide a new, comprehensive approach shared between government, industry and the community to reduce plastic use, manage plastic waste and pollution in NSW. 

How is the NSW EPA working with local councils and community groups to prevent litter?

The EPA supports local councils and community groups to deliver litter prevention programs through the NSW Litter Prevention Grants Program.

What is the NSW Government doing about plastics?

The NSW Government intends to release the NSW Plastics Plan this year. The plan aims to phase out key single-use plastics, triple the proportion of plastic recycled in NSW by 2030, reduce plastic litter by 25% by 2025 and make NSW a leader in national and international plastic research.

What is the NSW Government doing about cigarette butt litter?

Cigarette butts are consistently the most-littered item in NSW. It is estimated that each year 1.32 billion cigarette butts are littered in NSW. (NSW EPA, ‘Identifying effective strategies to reduce cigarette butt litter: Findings from the NSW EPA-led Cigarette Butt Litter Prevention Trial’, 2019)

The NSW Government has developed Cigarette Butt Litter Prevention Program to reduce cigarette butt littering behaviour. The Program includes guidelines and resources for stakeholders to tackle local cigarette butt litter hotspots, a new grants program.

The Guide to Prevent Cigarette Butt Littering provides detailed steps for land managers, local government, businesses and community groups to prevent cigarette butts from being littered.

Cigarette Butt Litter Prevention Grant Round One projects are now underway to support stakeholders to deliver local cigarette butt litter prevention projects that answer local needs.

To support this program, a fresh range of Cigarette Butt Litter signage including bin stickers, directional signage and informative posters is now available at the EPA Litter Library.

I see people littering all the time. What can I do about it?

You can help address the issue of littering by:

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