Keep it clean: New strategy to reduce litter in Western Australia

21st August 2020
  • New litter prevention strategy aims to reduce litter by 30 per cent
  • A plan for long-term prevention of litter and marine debris 

A new target of 30 per cent reduction in litter levels within five years has been set with the release of the Keep Australia Beautiful Council Litter Prevention Strategy for Western Australia 2020-2025.

The five-year strategy sets four strategic objectives:

  • increase community understanding of the impacts of litter on the environment and support behaviour change;
  • contribute to the long-term prevention of litter and marine debris;
  • ensure the community is aware of the penalties for littering; and
  • monitor the level of litter in Western Australia and its marine environment, and evaluate the effectiveness of programs.  

The new litter prevention strategy is borne out of the excellent results achieved by the strategy between 2015 and 2020. The litter reduction target set in the 2015-20 strategy was for a 25 per cent reduction from the level of litter in 2012-13. Western Australia exceeded this target, achieving a 41 per cent reduction between 2012-13 and 2018-19.

The strategy is being released during Keep Australia Beautiful Week which runs from August 17-23.

The McGowan Government has undertaken extensive community consultation over the past two years on actions to address litter and single-use plastics, including a ban on lightweight plastic bags, and the introduction of the container deposit scheme, Containers for Change, which is due to start on October 1, 2020. Containers for Change is expected to further reduce litter over the life of this strategy.

Litter has a serious impact on the natural environment. One of the key objectives of the new strategy is to increase community understanding of the impacts of litter.

Even organic matter can take months to break down. It attracts animals to the roadside, which can be lethal for them and dangerous for motorists. It is also harmful for pets and wildlife to ingest decomposing rubbish.

Plastics have an especially devastating impact on animals and marine life, and cigarette butts remain in the environment for up to 12 years. Cigarette butts remain one-third of the litter items counted every year in Western Australia.

Comments attributed to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:

"Western Australians are rightly proud of our beautiful State and we all want to make sure we focus on ensuring the cities, suburbs and towns we live in are clean, liveable environments.

"This litter prevention strategy is grounded in the community's effort to tackle litter. There are more than 43,000 Keep Australia Beautiful Council volunteers and more than 15,000 registered litter reporters in WA participating in litter prevention and community clean-ups, and they all need our support.

"The strategy will increase community understanding of the impacts of litter and the flow-on effects on our rivers and oceans, to bring about behavioural change."