To make a litter report, go to the Report Rubbish website.
What is Litter?
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.
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.
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.