Litter can take many forms and can have a range of effects.
Litter from cars
Report litter thrown from any vehicle by recording the registration, make, colour, model, location, date and time, plus a description of the litter and person.
Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter. Eighty-six per cent of litter reports to EPA relate to tossing lit or unlit cigarette butts from vehicles.
Many councils have installed special bins for butts around local areas and at public transport stops. Contact the building manager about installing and emptying these bins outside the building where you work.
Carrying a personal ashtray is a good way of avoiding littering when bins are not available. Websites like www.nobutts.com.au has a range of personal ashtrays you can purchase online.
The stormwater system is designed to take rainwater from our guttering and streets into the closest waterway. Litter carelessly dropped on our streets is often washed into the stormwater system and can end up on our beaches or in our rivers. When you wash paintbrushes in the gutter, or pour oil or pesticides into the gutter, it flows directly into our stormwater system and into our waterways, polluting them and putting people and animals at risk.
If you see this or any other form of environmental pollution, contact the EPA pollution hotline.
Don't sweep grass clippings and garden waste into gutters. When it rains, this waste is washed down into the stormwater system and ends up in your local waterways. It can also block stormwater drains, resulting in flooding during periods of heavy rain.
There are lots of things you can do with garden waste, including composting, greatly reducing your need for water.
There are a number of sources of information on composting. Contact:
If you are unable to use your garden waste, check whether your council has a green waste collection.
Remember: your hose shouldn’t replace your broom. Permanent Victorian water saving rules prohibit using water to clean driveways and pathways except in the case of an accident, fire or hazard to health. To read more about Victorian water saving rules visit www.water.vic.gov.au
Never pour chemicals into the gutter. Sustainability Victoria runs free household chemical collection days, which will accept most common household wastes including oil, pesticides and batteries. Visit www.resourcesmart.vic.gov.au/Detoxyourhome for more information or call 1800 353 233 to book a suitable time for collection.
Washing cars (subject to water restrictions)
To prevent soapy water, mud, oil and grease from being washed into our stormwater drains, don't let the run-off enter the gutter when washing your car. If washing it on your lawn or nature strip, avoid strong detergents, as these can damage your grass. Most commercial carwashes use recycled water.
Take a plastic bag or other suitable container to collect those little presents your dog leaves behind when you go for a walk. Leaving them there is unpleasant for others that use the area. Many councils have local laws in place to combat the problem on their streets and in their parks. Some provide special bags and bins in their parks.
Your local council manages queries relating to dog poo. Find your local council’s details here.
Plastic bags contribute significantly to Victoria’s litter problem. Although plastic shopping bags can’t go in to your recycling bin, they can be reused. Often, large supermarkets have collection points for bags in their stores, and the plastic from these is recycled.
Litter left from recycling and rubbish collections
Kerbside collections can result in rubbish accidentally being dropped in the street. If this occurs, residents should collect what has been dropped to prevent litter entering the stormwater system. If there is a large amount dropped or it occurs regularly, please contact your local council.
Sometimes recycling collections will leave behind items not included in the recycling program. Contact your local council for advice on what is included. For advice on disposal of items other than those included in kerbside collection, visit Sustainability Victoria.
Litter from landfills
If you are experiencing a problem with litter coming from a local landfill operation or waste transfer station, you can report it to EPA’s pollution hotline.
Advertising material must be distributed according to the law. At home, all mail deliveries should be left either under the door or in a letterbox.
If your letterbox has a ‘no junk mail’ label (or equivalent) on it, junk mail may not be placed in it. Unwanted advertising material should be reported to the Distributions Standards Board on 1800 676 136.
Councils can spend more than $100,000 a year cleaning up after illegally posted bills. It’s an offence to post bills without permission of the property owner under the Environment Protection Act. Offenders, including those who instruct others to put up bills illegally, can be fined.
You can report litter on railway lines to Metro, VLine or Vic Track on 03 9619 1111 or 1800 800 120. They will be able to organise for the rubbish to be collected.
Many organisations are involved in fighting litter.
Your local council will be able to tell you of groups in your area. If there is no group looking after an area of beauty or an area that may need some help, speak to your local council about how you can be involved.