Litter – It’s in your hands

Maitland City Council was successful in obtaining $28,000 from the NSW Environment Protection and Authority (EPA) under the Waste Less Recycle More funding to conduct a litter awareness campaign. The campaign is designed to encourage the community to dispose of litter appropriately whilst using public spaces. 

Maitland City Council is experiencing littering in parks, streets, shopping centres and recreational areas. The Litter items predominantly include cigarette butts, takeaway packaging and beverage containers. While the problem is not confined to any specific area, a recreational park, a youth space and a shopping mall are the target areas for this Litter Reduction Program.

Research has established that people litter because:

  • They feel no sense of ownership 
  • They believe that someone else will pick it up 
  • Litter was already there 
  • It’s easier and more convenient
The litter awareness campaign will attempt to change these attitudes, as the act of littering harms our environment and health in many ways.

Litter consists of items of waste that have been disposed improperly at an inappropriate location. Litter can cause serious environmental harm by polluting water ways, killing wildlife that eat the litter or get tangled up in it and poisoning land.  Litter can exist in the environment for long periods of time before breaking down and can be transported large distances to end up in the world's oceans. Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world, with 4.5 trillion discarded annually. It can take up to 400 years for a cigarette butt to completely breakdown.  Other types of litter include drink bottles and fast food packaging. Dangerous litter items such as syringes and needles are also common. 

Litter also makes an area look dirty and uncared for, unpleasant to be in and less likely to be used and enjoyed by the community. 

 In NSW, approximately $300 million to $350 million is spent every year to clean up litter and to provide education campaigns.

What can you do?

It’s easy to prevent litter every day by:

  • putting your rubbish in a bin
  • taking your rubbish with you if no bin is available
  • keeping a bag in the car to collect rubbish
  • putting your cigarette butt in a butt bin, or ordinary litter bin when extinguished
  • keeping a container in the car to collect cigarette butts.
You can also Report littering from a vehicle 
If you see litter being discarded or blown from a vehicle you can report this to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). You will need to record details such as the vehicle registration, location, type of litter, date and time. When doing so make sure you do not compromise your safety. By reporting littering from motor vehicles, you can help raise awareness, reduce clean-up costs and keep NSW clean. 
To report littering from a vehicle, please visit

People caught littering can receive a fine of up to $450 

(Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997) 

For more information, please visit