Littering and Illegal Dumping

Every year, Council spends an enormous amount of time and money to clean up litter and dumped waste in the Western Downs natural and urban environment. This does not include the efforts of volunteer and community groups assisting in the clean up and restoring of natural areas.

What problems can it cause?

Littering and illegal dumping of waste has the potential to cause health and safety risks for both people and the natural environment. It can:

  • Contain broken glass, syringes, nappies, medical waste and toxic substances like asbestos;
  • Attract rodents, insects and other vermin;
  • Provide an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes;
  • Block waterways and stormwater drains, increasing the potential for flooding and erosion;
  • Be a potential fire hazard;
  • Attract further dumping;
  • Other antisocial and illegal activities;
  • Decrease community pride and intensifies the problem;
  • Build up next to roads;
  • Block gutters and find its way into creeks, rivers and onto beaches
  • Harm and/or kill wildlife e.g. plastic waste can choke and suffocate birds and marine life.

Even unlikely materials such as soil and garden waste contributes to litter and dumping issues within the Western Downs by spreading pests and weeds, including fire ants and lantana. Organic waste such as food scraps, contributes to algae blooms in waterways. Cigarette butts comprise 90% waste littered from a vehicle. Plastic cigarette filters end up in waterways and can be swallowed by marine animals. These animals will slowly choke to death. Cigarette butts littered from motor vehicles can also start bush fires – costing lives and damaging property.

Why does it happen?

Businesses and individuals that illegally dump do so to avoid fees at landfills, or the time and effort required for proper disposal.

To avoid detection and potential fines, offenders go to extraordinary lenghts to illegally dispose of materials. If they considered the cost of fuel and time taken to dispose of the waste, they would usually find it cheaper and quicker to dispose of these materials legally at a landfill or transfer station.

What is Littering and Illegal Dumping?

Littering: Litter has been defined as the deposit of waste at a place that is an amount less than 200L in volume.

What can it look like?
Common types of litter include cigarette butts, drink bottles, fast food wrappers, material from a trailer that is poorly secured, grass clippings swept into the gutter, fishing tackle.

Dangerous Littering: Deposits equalling an amount less than 200L in volume, that causes or is likely to cause harm to a person or the environment.

What can it look like?
Examples include throwing a lit cigarette onto dry grass in extreme fire danger conditions; smashing a glass bottle and leaving the broken glass on a footpath; leaving a syringe in a public place other than in a container intended to receive used syringes.

Illegal Dumping: Illegal dumping has been defined as the deposit of waste at a place that is an amount equalling amounts greater than 200L in volume.

What can it look like?
Dumping is unsightly, degrades the local environment, reduces property value and costs rate payers a substantial amount of money each year to clean up. Illegal dumping includes items such as bags of rubbish, garden waste, building materials, household goods, abandoned cars, scrap tyres and hazardous waste.

Queensland Littering Laws and Penalities

The Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 includes a range of offences for litter and illegal dumping, including:

  • General littering
  • Littering from a vehicle
  • Dangerous littering
  • Illegal dumping
  • Failing to clean up waste

Local governments and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) have a shared responsibility for litter and illegal dumping enforcement. Authorised officers from council and Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) can issue fines and direction notices for litter and illegal dumping offence.

Examples of litter and illegal dumping fines are included in the table below:

Type of Litter Examples Penalty
Infringement
Notice
Individuals
Penalty
Infringement
Notice
Corporations
Maximum Penalty If
Proceed to Court
General littering and litter from a vehicle Throwing cigarette butt from car window

Food wrappers, bus tickets or food items left on ground

Throwing a soft drink can, takeaway food
packaging or plastic bag from a car

$220 $3,300
Dangerous littering Broken glass left in a playground

A lit cigarette thrown near dry grass

$440 $1,760 $4,400
Illegal dumping
More than 200L
and less than 2,500L
Disposing of waste in an area that is not a dedicated waste facility i.e. large domestic items such as fridges, garden refuse,
construction materials
$1,760 $3,300 $44,000
Illegal dumping
More than 2,500L
Disposing of waste in an area that is not
a dedicated waste facility i.e. large domestic
items such as fridges, garden refuse,
construction materials
$2,200 $6,600 $110,000
Illegal dumping
failure to clean up waste
A person requested to clean up litter or illegal dumping waste who does not comply within the timeframes specified

A person requested to clean up advertising
material who does not comply within the timeframes specified

 

 

 –

 

 

$400

$10,000

 

 

$4,000