Litter Management


To make a litter report, go to the Report Rubbish website​. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

What is Lit​ter?

Litter is material that is deposited in the environment in a way that creates disorder. Frequently littered items include cigarette butts, drink containers, takeaway food packaging and plastic shopping bags​ (see EPA Plastic Shopping Bags webpage​). 

Litter can also include ​balloons (see EPA information on balloon releases) food scraps, household rubbish, abandoned vehicles, construction or demolition equipment, garden clippings, furniture and material falling from an unsecured load – any item that finds its way into the environment which should not be there. Materials left next to rubbish bins or skips are litter. People with good intentions also leave items outside full charity bins, but this is also littering. 

It can be large or small in quantity, from a single item to large scale illegal dumping. 

The Status of Litter in Tasmania​

The Tasmanian Government has commissioned statewide litter surveys from 2023 to 2026. A total of 24 sites are being surveyed on a biannual basis (December and May) across four local government areas of varying socio-economic profiles - two in the Greater Hobart Region, one in the Greater Launceston Region, and one in the North-West Region.

Using the Australian littering Measure (AusLM) sites are classified into six different site type categories - residential, retail and industrial areas, recreational parks, beaches and main roads.

Some of the results from the Annual Litter Survey 2023-24 show:
  • Plastic (food and non-food packaging, plus fragments) made up 45% of items counted, with paper/card (packages and boxes) making up 17% of items counted. These are the most dominant litter streams​ across all types of sites. Single use plastics made up 13% of the total items counted.

  • Cigarette butts made up around 14% of littered items. This represents a very low comparative volume of litter, but a high number of items.

  • Main roads were the site type with the highest litter by volume, accounting for 58.9% of litter, followed by industrial areas at 24.5%. By comparison, retail and residential areas and parks had much less litter. Beaches contained the lowest litter, with 1.2% of the calculated total volume

  • Most (79%) of the beverage containers counted (which will be included in the Container Refund Scheme) were found on roadsides and 12% were in industrial areas. The Container Refund Scheme may have the potential to reduce beverage container litter.

  • Almost half of all single use plastics (48.9%) were counted on main road sites. It is likely that most of this litter was deposited from moving vehicles travelling along these roads. Single use cups, including takeaway soft drink and coffee cups, were the most prevalent single use item observed. The Tasmanian Government has committed to phasing out the sale and supply of select problematic and single-use plastics.

Why is litter so bad?

Litter is pollution and can harm people, wildlife and our waterways. Littered items can encourage pests as well as the spread of germs and disease. It can also degrade water quality if there are harmful chemicals associated with it. Litter is wasteful and costly to clean-up. Litter also affects the way visitors and locals view our State. 

People have become increasingly concerned about litter in the ocean, particularly plastic. Animals and birds can be entangled in plastic, such as rope, fishing line and the strings attached to balloons. This can disrupt their feeding, restrict movement, increase vulnerability to predators, cause restriction that results in infection or loss of limbs, decrease their hunting ability and/or cause the animals to drown. In the marine environment, animals and birds can also ingest plastic and balloons, mistaking them for food, with devastating impacts. Plastic can enter the food web and even microscopic zooplankton have been observed (under a microscope) eating plastic. 

Most (80%) of the litter in the ocean comes from the land: from littering, dumping, stormwater and from extreme natural events such as floods. The remaining sources come from fishing vessels, offshore platforms and vessels.

Litter on the land can arise from people who neglect to dispose of their waste in rubbish bins. Windblown litter can arise from landfill sites and waste transfer stations, and if people do not secure their waste during transport.

Litter prevention, education, collection and enforcement costs the community millions of dollars every year. Discarded lit cigarettes can cause bushfires, with huge environmental, community, personal and financial toll.

Litter also has many other costs that are hard to measure and see, such as wildlife that are injured or die, reduced amenity and a reduction in community safety eg from broken glass.

How can I help to reduce litter?

Reducing and preventing littering and dumping is everyone's responsibility.

Information on other Tasmanian Government initiatives can be found on our website, including the introduct​ion of the Container Refund Sch​eme, and work on phasing-out several problematic single use plastics types​ by 2025.

Other Tasmanian initiatives can be found on their websites:
  • Keep Australia Beautiful ​conducts the Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Awards every year in Tasmania, to celebrate community sustainability projects, including litter reduction. KAB also conducts a Sustainable Schools Grants program annually.

  • Clean Up Australia hosts clean-up events every year, in hundreds of locations around Australia.

  • AUSMAP is a nationwide citizen science initiative, surveying Australian beaches for microplastic pollution. By understanding plastic pollution, this may help find the sources of plastic pollution.

  • Tangaroa Blue is a nationwide database on beach litter, which people can participate in when they are doing a beach clean-up.

  • Take 3 for the Sea​ is a campaign which encourages people to pick up litter whenever they are at the beach.

  • Tasmanians can also get involved with the Great South West Clean-Up​, where thousands of pieces of litter are collected annually in remote South West Tasmania. ​