Reporting littering from vehicles
Since February 2015, members of the community have been able to report littering from motor vehicles. Based on the report, the EPA can issue a penalty notice for littering from a vehicle to the owner of the vehicle.
How litter reports work
Is Report to EPA for littering from vehicles effective?
Yes. The NSW Government is serious about reducing litter and has achieved a 43% reduction in litter since 2013. Report to EPA forms a part of the solution, with the ultimate goal being that no one will be reported or fined for littering, because no one will litter.
- over 57,000 people registered to report littering from vehicles
- over 76,000 reports of littering from a vehicle were made
- more than 45,900 fines were issued by the EPA.
What are the laws covering littering from a motor vehicle?
Littering from a motor vehicle is covered under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) (sections 145-146). The vehicle owner is deemed liable for littering unless they provide a statutory declaration stating the details of the person responsible for the littering, or the person in charge of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence.
How much is the fine for committing the offence of littering from a motor vehicle?
The fine for committing the offence of littering from a motor vehicle is
- $500 if the vehicle is owned by a corporation or
- $250 if the vehicle is owned by an individual.
Do fines increase if a person is reported more than once?
No, the fine remains the same regardless of the number of times a person receives a penalty notice for littering from a motor vehicle.
Do fines automatically increase during the fire season?
No. Fines for littering under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) do not increase during the fire season.
However the Rural Fire Service (RFS) has its own penalties for the littering of cigarette butts from vehicles. Fines under the Rural Fires Act 1997 do increase during Total Fire Bans. For more information, call RFS on 02 8741 5555 or visit the RFS website.
How do you validate reports of littering from a vehicle made by the community?
Once a report is made there are several steps taken to verify the report before any fine is issued.
The vehicle information provided in the report is authenticated against Roads and Maritime Services records and we review at least 18 other mandatory categories of information in the report. If all the mandatory information requirements are complete, consistent and plausible, then a fine will be issued.
When a report is made, reporters are required to confirm that they understand the EPA terms and conditions, their obligation to submit accurate reports, that it is a crime to provide false or misleading information, and that they are prepared to attend court as a witness, if required.
A penalty for a littering offence is like any other offence. That is, a person may choose to have the matter heard in court and the presumption of innocence applies. It is the responsibility of the prosecution (the EPA), to prove the offence occurred.
What if a person is tempted to make an untrue or malicious report?
When a person registers to become a reporter they must read and agree to the terms and conditions for reporting including that
- the information provided is true and correct
- it is a crime to knowingly provide false or misleading information
- a reporter is prepared to go to court as a witness
Reporters must register to report and provide their personal details and a valid mobile phone number which we verify with an SMS text code. Reporters without a mobile phone must provide a copy of their photo identification.
Can I report littering that isn't from a vehicle?
No. We only accept reports from the community about littering from vehicles.
Authorised officers (for example local council rangers, police officers and authorised members of staff of certain Government bodies or agencies) can issue on-the-spot fines to people littering in public places.
How to report
How do I report littering from a motor vehicle?
The first time you make a report you will be asked to register and to create an account. You must provide a mobile phone number so you can be verified and receive an SMS text code number to complete the registration process. If you do not have a mobile phone, you must provide a certified copy of your photo identification such as a driver’s licence or passport.
Who can report littering from motor vehicles?
Any member of the community who observes littering from a motor vehicle can report using Report to EPA.
- You will need to register and create an account to submit the report
- You must be prepared to attend court as a witness if required. (Based on recent statistics 2% of people receiving a fine elect to go to court)
- You have an obligation to submit accurate reports, and it is a crime to provide false or misleading information.
Can I report littering from a motor vehicle by fax, email or to Environment Line?
Why do I have to register and provide personal details to be able to submit a report?
The EPA issues fines for littering from a motor vehicle based on reports by the community. By registering to report and providing your personal details, we can be confident your details are correct and up-to-date.
We may need to contact you about your report, and if the offender chooses to have the matter dealt with in court you may be required to attend court as a witness. (Based on recent statistics 2% of people receiving a fine elect to go to court).
By registering, you agree to the EPA terms and conditions, and to attend court as a witness if required. You have an obligation to submit accurate reports as it is a crime to provide false or misleading information.
Who will have access to my details? Will they be given to the person who littered?
The EPA will have access to your details, but will not release any information to anyone else unless the offender chooses to have the matter dealt with in court. If you have reported a person for littering from a motor vehicle and that person chooses to have the matter heard before a court, your identity may be known to the court and to the defendant.
We are required to comply with the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998.
What must I have seen in order to report littering from a motor vehicle?
You can report littering from a motor vehicle to the EPA if you see
- The driver or any occupant of a vehicle throwing or discarding litter from the vehicle onto a public space, including public roads, shopping centre car parks, public car parks, fast food outlet car parks, or any other public space.
- Litter falling or being blown off a vehicle (including a trailer or off the back of a utility vehicle) onto a public space, including public roads, shopping centre car parks, public car parks, fast food outlet car parks, or any other public space.
If you see a person littering near a vehicle without being inside the vehicle, for example in a car park, you should not make a report, as the litter must actually come from a vehicle.
How much time do I have to submit a report?
Your report must be submitted to the EPA within 14 days from when you saw the littering occur. However, you should submit the report as soon as you can, and keep any evidence such as notes, photographs or videos.
What information will I need to provide with the report?
You must provide
- the registration number of the vehicle the litter was discarded from
- the location where you saw the litter being discarded, including the
- street or road
- town or city
- nearest cross street (if possible)
- the description of the vehicle including the
- vehicle make
- body type (car, utility, van, truck, motor cycle, bus, etc.)
- colour of the vehicle
- model of the vehicle (if possible)
- the date and time you saw the litter being discarded from the vehicle
- the type of litter you observed being discarded
- the position in the car of the person who discarded the litter
- if the litter was thrown, blown or dropped from the vehicle
- where you were when you saw the littering, for example, in a vehicle in traffic, on foot, on a bicycle
- if you know the person who littered any other identifying information such as
- hair colour
- approximate age
- attire or clothing.
Should I provide photos or videos?
Safety first! Your health and safety are more important than reporting littering from a vehicle. If you are driving, ask a passenger to record the details.
It is illegal to use your mobile phone while driving and we are not able to use any information collected illegally.
If it is safe to do so, and you are not driving, we encourage you to take photos, videos or voice recordings and submit them with your report. These are a useful record to help you make your report and they can form part of the evidence if the offender chooses to have the matter heard in Court. You can upload up to three photographs of maximum 5MB each and a sound or video file of up to 25MB.
How do I include the location of the offence in the report?
- Enter the street name and suburb where you saw the littering.
- Enter the closest cross street if you know it, or find it on the map that appears.
- Click the pin on the map to the exact location. Please check the street name is correct before you submit your report.
What has happened to the Report to EPA mobile app?
The Report to EPA mobile app has been replaced by Report to EPA online for mobile devices, which guarantees a better user experience on mobile phones and on the desktop. You can add the Report to EPA icon to your mobile phone homescreen.
I reported a tosser but didn’t get a response, what should I do?
You can log in to your Report to EPA account any time to view your reports under ‘My Report Activity’.
What happens if the reporting application is down?
If the system is down, please try again later.
The Report to EPA reporting system relies on digital technologies outside of our control. We do not guarantee continuous accessibility or uninterrupted operation. The EPA will not be liable for any loss, damage, cost or expense resulting from any delay in operation or transmission, communications failure, internet access difficulties and malfunctions in equipment or software.
What can and can’t be reported
What type of litter can I report?
- cigarettes (lit or unlit)
- food or drink items
- paper or cardboard
- drink containers such as paper or plastic cups, aluminium cans, and glass bottles.
If the litter item isn’t listed, try to match it to the material type as best as you can. You can enter more details in the additional information box to describe the litter.
Can I report interstate vehicles?
We can process reports made about interstate vehicles from Victoria, Queensland, and the ACT providing the offence you saw was committed in NSW. We can’t act on reports about vehicles registered in Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory or Tasmania.
Are there any legal issues covering photographing or filming someone littering?
No. There is no right to privacy in this context, so you can photograph or film someone littering for the purposes of reporting. But remember – you cannot use your mobile phone whilst driving.
Can I submit a report when I see people delivering newspapers by throwing them from a vehicle?
No, there are exceptions to the litter laws for the delivery of newspapers.
You can contact your local council to report litter from discarded newspapers. Councils are authorised to take action about litter, but it is up to each council to decide how they will proceed.
The Distributions Standards Board is the industry body that supports a Code of Practice (PDF 370KB) for the distribution of advertising material and can take action to ensure its members comply with litter laws.
Can I report littering that isn’t from a vehicle?
No. We only accept reports from the community about littering from vehicles.
Enforcement officers (for example local council rangers, police officers and authorised members of staff of certain Government bodies or agencies) can issue on-the-spot fines to people littering in public places.
I see people littering all the time. What can I do about it?
You can help address the issue of littering by
- Contacting your local council and local community groups about litter prevention projects. The EPA provides grants to councils and community groups to run prevention projects
- Getting involved in a local litter prevention project.
Can I report smoky or noisy vehicles?
Attending court as a reporter
What is the likelihood of having to go to court as a witness?
As with all fines the recipient has the option to have the matter determined by a court. The likelihood of having to attend court as witness to the alleged offence is low. However, it is important that you do attend court as the witness whenever an alleged littering offence that has been reported by you is court elected.
If that happens in respect to your report, we will contact you to find out more about what you saw. You may be asked to provide a statement or to go to court as a witness. You should keep notes and any photographs or videos about your littering report as there can be quite a time lag between a fine being issued and any possible court appearance.
What will happen if I register and report an offence but refuse to attend court if requested?
As part of submitting a report you ticked a box agreeing to attend court if required.
If you later refuse to attend court, the matter may be dropped and any fine for littering withdrawn. Depending on the circumstances we may not accept any further reports for littering from a vehicle from you.
What can I expect if I have to go to court as a witness?
If the recipient of a penalty notice chooses to have the matter heard in court, it is likely you will be asked to provide a written statement of what you saw. Your statement may be provided to the offender before the matter is heard in court.
At Court, as a witness under oath, you may be cross-examined by the defendant’s legal representative or the defendant themselves. The Magistrate or Judge may also ask questions. See the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions website for information on being a witness.
Is there compensation available if a person takes time off work to attend court?
Reasonable expenses may be reimbursed for witnesses, including the costs of attending court.
How long is my reporting registration valid for?
Once you have registered, your user ID is valid until you de-register or if you have not made a littering report for three years.
How do I change the details I provided when I registered?
You can change your details through My details which is located on the left hand menu and can be accessed at any time. You cannot change your mobile number or your date of birth. You will need to contact the EPA to change those details.
What happens if the reporting system is down?
The Report to EPA online reporting relies on internet technologies outside our control. We do not guarantee continuous accessibility or uninterrupted operation. The EPA will not be liable for any loss, damage, cost or expense resulting from any delay in operation or transmission, communications failure, internet access difficulties and malfunctions in equipment or software.
How do I de-register or opt out?
To de-register please contact the EPA. If you have made a report, your details associated with that report will be kept on record.
If you have not used the system for at least three years, your registration will be cancelled. If you choose to report in future you will need to register again.
Receiving a penalty notice from the EPA
If you receive a penalty notice for littering from a motor vehicle
What do I need to do if I receive a penalty notice?
Fines are sent out from the EPA and payment can be made to Revenue NSW either by cheque, credit card, phone or online. Payments may also be made at a Service NSW centre in person.
Your options regarding the finalisation of the penalty notice are listed on Revenue NSW website, they are
- Pay the fine, or
- Nominate the person responsible, or
- Request a review, or
- Choose to have the matter dealt with in court.
If you do not pay or finalise your fine or penalty reminder notice by the due date, these options listed above will change.
What can I do if I believe I have been wrongly reported?
Like other penalty notices that are issued, if you believe you have been wrongly fined for littering from a vehicle there are a number of steps you can take.
If you believe you are not responsible for littering from your vehicle, do not contact the EPA. You can
- Complete a statutory declaration providing the details of the person responsible (for example a passenger or someone who was using your vehicle) and submit it to Revenue NSW. The penalty notice will then be issued to the person responsible.
- Complete a Request for Review on the Revenue NSW website if you believe neither you nor any of your passengers are responsible for littering from your vehicle.
If the review by Revenue NSW is unsuccessful you can choose to have the matter heard in court by contacting Revenue NSW.
Revenue NSW will then inform the EPA you elect to have the matter heard in court. The EPA will review the claim and contact the person who made the report. If there are any anomalies in the report or their recollection of the incident or if they are not prepared to appear as a witness in court, the matter will not proceed.
A penalty for a littering offence is like any other offence, and you may choose to have the matter heard in court and the presumption of innocence applies. It is the responsibility of the prosecution (the EPA), to prove the offence occurred.
Remember, when deciding whether to submit a statutory declaration or to have the matter heard in court that it is an offence under s 307(b) of the Crimes Act 1900 to knowingly provide false or misleading information to the EPA.
If I choose to go to Court, what can I expect?
The EPA will seek to recover costs associated with conducting the matter, so if you are found guilty of the offence, they may order that you pay all or a portion of the EPA’s costs, as well as a fine. See the Legal Aid website for information about going to court.
Who has reported me?
People reporting littering from motor vehicles can be NSW government officers, local council officers or members of the community. We are bound by privacy laws and can’t reveal the identity of the person who reported you. These privacy laws also prevent your identity being provided to the reporter. The only time identity may be revealed is if the matter is taken to court.