National Litter Index

The National Litter Index

The Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index (NLI) is Australia’s only national, annual, quantitative measure of what litter occurs where and in what volume based on counts taken twice a year at 1,059 sites across Australia representing 9 site types.  In Western Australia, there were 151 sites within 50 kilometres of the CBD in 2015 -16.

The National Litter Index has been undertaken since November 2005 and is done in all states and Territories in Australia.

What's counted?

Litter items are counted under seven material type categories including cigarette butts, glass, illegal dumping, metal, miscellaneous, paper/paperboard, and plastic.. The litter is also analysed according to eight different site types including residential, beach, industrial, car park, shopping centre, retail, recreational park and highway.

Litter statistics for Western Australia

In 2015-16  the NLI results for Western Australia indicate a 1.5% increase in litter by item and an 8% increase in litter by volume from last year.

The good news! 

By item, five site types experienced a reduction in litter, including shopping centres (down 24%), car parks (down 13%), beaches (down 28%), industrial areas (down 4%) and recreational areas such as parks (down 40%).  

By volume, four site types experienced a reduction in litter including car parks (down 48%), industrial areas (down 6%), retail areas (5%) and recreational areas such as parks (down 53%).  

NLI table

National vs Western Australia (WA)

A comparison in this period highlights the following:

  • After achieving significant gains over the last five years, WA has shown a small increase in litter items and volume of litter in 2015-16.
  • Roadsides and industrial areas continue to be large contributors to litter levels.
  • WA’s litter levels are higher than the national average but is still 18% lower than 2011-12 levels.

WA Litter by number of items



  • Butts, beverage containers and glass reduced, Takeaway packaging remained the same, while paper, other plastic, general other and illegal dumping increased.
  • Butts still the most littered item at 18 per 1000ms
  • Beverage and takeaway packaging combine to be the next most littered item at 13.24 items per 1000m2
  • Illegal dumping showed a significant increase of 52%
  • Butts have dropped from 38% of the litter stream to 35% in 2015-16

WA Top littered items

  1. Cigarette Butts
  2. Paper/Paperboard other
  3. Plastic – other
  4. Plastic - food and beverage containers, wrappers
  5. Metal – non-alcoholic beverage containers
  6. Miscellaneous
  7. Paper/Paperboard – food container or utensils and beverage containers
  8. Metal – alcoholic beverage container
  9. Plastic – non-alcoholic beverage container
  10. Glass- beverage container (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
  11. Paper/Paperboard-cigarette packets
  12. Glass-other


The NLI 2015-16 results indicate that the downward trend in littered items in WA has slowed with some site types making substantial gains but with highways and industrial areas disproportionally increasing to offset other gains. High volumes suggests that the littering and dumping of large items is still a concern.