Littering and Illegal Dumping

Every year, Council spends an enormous amount of time and money to clean up litter and illegally 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. Council is committed to achieving our vision of a region free from litter and illegal dumping through education and enforcement and the enactment of a litter and illegal dumping action plan.

What is illegal dumping? | Why is illegal dumping a problem? | Why does illegal dumping happen? | What else is littering and illegal dumping?  | Queensland Littering Laws and Penalties | Report illegal dumping

What is illegal dumping?

Illegal dumping is the deposit of any type of waste material greater than 200 litres (approximately the volume of a wheelie bin) in volume without permission. Penalties apply for this offence.

Commonly illegally dumped items include:

  • Household rubbish (bags of rubbish)
  • Garden waste
  • Household goods (e.g. Whitegoods, TV’s mattresses and furniture)
  • Building waste (construction and demolition materials)
  • Tyres, chemical drums and paint tins
  • Abandoned cars
  • Asbestos

Did you know?
Leaving items on the footpath (outside of collection days) or outside a charity bin or shop is classed as illegal dumping.  Doing this costs charities and councils thousands of dollars to clean up.  If your items are too big to fit into a charity bin drop it off in store.

Why is illegal dumping a problem?

Health and Safety Impacts
Littering and illegal dumping of waste has the potential to cause health and safety risks and environmental damage. For example, it can:

  • Contain broken glass, syringes, nappies, medical waste and toxic substances like asbestos:
  • Attract disease vectors such as rodents, insects (including mosquitoes) and other vermin:
  • Block waterways and stormwater drains, increasing the potential for flooding and erosion:
  • Be a potential fire hazard:
  • Build up next to roads becoming safety hazards:
  • Block gutters and find its way into creeks and waterways:
  • Harm and/or kill wildlife e.g. suffocating birds or aquatic 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.

Economic Impacts
As well as health and environmental risks, littering and illegal dumping also has a economic impact on residents. Littering and illegal dumping significantly diminishes the image of the region’s public places and local communities by making them appear dirty, uncared for or unpleasant to be in.  Fewer visitors will be attracted to unappealing communities and public places which reduces economic growth within the region. Littering and illegal dumping also costs Queensland communities millions of dollars each year in waste management and clean-up expenses which could otherwise be used for important community services or amenities. Illegal dumping can also:

  • Reduce property value and impact regional investment:
  • Promote other antisocial and illegal activities:
  • Decrease community pride and attract further dumping:

Why does illegal dumping happen?

Businesses and individuals may illegally dump waste:

  • To avoid disposal fees at tip sites
  • Lack of awareness of the availability of waste and recycling infrastructure
  • Incorrect perception of what is illegally dumping (e.g. depositing household items beside charity bins)
  • Assumption that people are employed to manage the site
  • The time or effort disposing of or recycling their waste properly
  • Incorrect assumption that illegally dumping doesn’t cost them anything

Many illegal dumpers go to extreme lengths to try to avoid detection and potential fines while illegally dumping material. If they consider the cost of fuel and time taken to dispose of waste, they would usually find it cheaper and quicker to dispose of these materials legally at a landfill or transfer station.  See Waste Facility and Disposal Fees

What else is littering and illegal dumping?

Kerbside dumping: Kerbside dumping involves placing unwanted items on the kerbside expecting that they will be collected by passers-by or Council.
This behaviour is illegal and may attract heavy fines.

Littering: Litter is defined as the deposit of waste in an amount less than 200L in volume.
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.

Discarding cigarette butts: Cigarette butts comprise 90% of waste littered from vehicles. Butts can end up in waterways and can be swallowed by aquatic animals and native species. Cigarette butts can also start bush fires which risk lives and property.

Dangerous littering:  Dumping rubbish that causes or is likely to cause harm to a person or the environment may constitute the offices of dangerous littering.
For example: throwing a lit cigarette onto dry grass in extreme fire danger conditions, smashing a glass bottle and leaving the broken glass on a footpath or leaving a syringe in a public place other than in a container intended to receive used syringes.

Releasing balloons: It can be easy to forget about the consequences of releasing balloons during celebrations but the aftermath can be deadly. They can end up hundreds of kilometres away causing great harm to the environment and wildlife.

Unsolicited advertising material (junk mail): Unsolicited advertising material (or ‘junk mail’) is any document intended for a commercial or promotional purpose, not addressed by name to an owner or occupier of the premises. Junk mail must be placed securely into a mailbox (or similar receptacle for mail or newspaper) or under a door. It is an offence to distribute  junk mail to residents with a clear sign on a mailbox, fence or other place for receiving mail that states ‘No Advertising Material’, ‘No Junk Mail’, or words to that effect.
If you are still receiving junk mail with a clear sign up, you can contact the Distribution Standards Board and lodge a complaint by calling 1800 676 136.

Queensland Littering Laws and Penalties

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

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  (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, park benches, etc.

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

$226 $1,334 $4,003
Dangerous littering Broken glass left in a playground

A lit cigarette thrown near dry grass

$533 $2,135 $5,338
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
$2,135 $6,672 $53,380
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 $2,669 $10,008 $133,450
Or twice the waste levy for that waste
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

$1,334

$400

$6,672

$1,334

$40,035

$5,338

Report Illegal Dumping

If you’ve witnessed illegal dumping behaviour or have discovered illegally dumped waste, you can report it to Council by phoning 1300 COUNCIL (1300 268 624) or by completing our reporting webform below. For your own safety, do NOT approach anyone you suspect is engaging in illegal dumping behavior.

Report Illegal Dumping

Report instances of illegal dumping or littering in the Western Downs Region
  • Please provide a place, address, directions, nearby landmarks or GPS coordinates of the dumping site.
  • Eg. Type of waste, quantity of waste
  • Description of offender, description of vehicle, registration plate, colour etc
  • Drop files here or
    Max. file size: 20 MB, Max. files: 10.

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