Litter and Illegal Dumping
Littering is the discarding of material either deliberately or by accident, in a way that makes the location more disorderly or has detrimental impacts on the use of that location. Put simply, litter is rubbish in the wrong place.
Some common litter item examples include cigarette butts, confectionary wrappers, small pieces of paper and drink containers.
For further information the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) about littering, including the associated laws and regulations.
Environmental effects of littering include:
- Contamination of lands, water sources and soils
- Litter can be dangerous – particularly items such as broken glass, needles and syringes
- Litter such as cigarette butts pose a fire hazard
- Degrades plant and animal habitats
- Can harm or kill wildlife
Littering is an offence and people who litter will be fined. As stated on the NSW EPA’s website, under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, littering is subject to a tiered range of fines:
- $80 for littering small items, such as bottle tops and cigarette butts
- $250 for general littering
- $250 for an individual littering from a vehicle ($500 for corporations)
- $450 for littering in aggravated or dangerous circumstances, such as depositing a syringe or a lit cigarette ($900 for corporations)
For information regarding litter laws, visit the NSW EPA’s website.
Littering From Vehicles
Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, littering from a motor vehicle can incur a fine of $250 for a privately owned vehicle and $500 for a vehicle owned by a corporation.
If you witness littering from a vehicle, you can report it to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). To file a report please click here.
Reporting a Cigarette Butt Tosser during a Total Fire Ban
Although fines for littering under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, will not increase during the fire season, the Rural Fire Service (RFS) has its own penalties for the littering of cigarette butts from vehicles. Under the Rural Fires Act 1997 fines do increase during Total Fire Bans.
For more information call the RFS on (02) 8741 5555 or visit the RFS website, where you can also report seeing a lit cigarette butt tossed from a vehicle.
Stormwater Pollution (Litter)
Gross Pollutant Traps
Gross Pollutant Traps (GPTs) are filters that catch stormwater pollution (litter) before it has a chance to enter waterways. GPTs catch most of the litter and silt but don’t stop chemicals going into the environment. The contents of the GPTs are emptied on a regular basis and sent to landfill.
There are 21 underground inline GPTs located in the Hawkesbury City Council Local Government Area.
By trapping the majority of solid stormwater pollution, GPTs aid in enhancing the aesthetic qualities of the Hawkesbury environment. If areas are free of gross pollutants it is possible to enjoy recreational activities such as swimming, boating and water skiing.
Stormwater pollution can kill aquatic plants and animals. For example:
- Sediment in the water reduces light penetration and affects photosynthesis, the process that allows plants to use light as their source of energy
- When green waste decays in water it uses up oxygen, taking vital oxygen away from plants, fish and other aquatic animals
- Soil makes waterways cloudy and can suffocate fish by clogging their gills
- Litter clogs waterways and causes toxicity as it breaks down. It affects the health of birds, fish and other animals and plants that live in the waterways
How can I help?
The most effective way to reduce this problem is to prevent pollution entering the stormwater system in the first place. This is better for the environment and cheaper for the community as traps have to be regularly cleaned, emptied and maintained, and this cost can be greatly reduced if there is less pollution entering the stormwater systems.
Traps don't catch all the silt or litter, and they don't stop chemicals. Things you can do to help include:
- Never allowing chemicals or dirty water to enter street stormwater drains
- Keeping rubbish in covered bins at all times (including cigarette butts) and away from stormwater drains
- Washing and servicing vehicles on grassy areas or in car wash bays
- Keeping leaves and grass clippings out of stormwater drains
- Collecting dog droppings and placing them in the bin
- Sweeping workshop floors and paved areas instead of hosing
Illegal dumping is the unlawful deposit of waste onto private or public land.
Illegal dumping creates an unsightly appearance to neighbourhoods, effects property values, quality of life, and increases problems with safety. Illegal dumping also has both major environmental and financial costs.
Environmental effects of illegal dumping include:
- Contamination of lands, water sources and soils
- Destroys local bushland
- Degrades plant and animal habitats
- Hampers revegetation efforts
- Reduces biodiversity value
Illegal dumping shows no care or respect for our community or the environment and can cost ratepayers through the significant costs to local councils – an estimated $10 million a year is spent by NSW local governments removing waste and properly disposing of it.
Fines and Penalties
Action can be taken by Council Officers in response to illegal dumping under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2005. Such action may involve warnings being given to those parties responsible, on-the-spot fines or prosecution.
The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 provides a tiered range of illegal dumping offence provisions/fines. As outlined on the NSW EPA’s website these include:
Tier 3 – on-the-spot fines for illegal dumping
- $7,500 on-the-spot fine for individuals, if issued by the EPA ($4000 otherwise)
- $15,000 on-the-spot fines for corporations, if issued by the EPA ($8000 otherwise)
Tier 2 – use of land as waste facility without lawful authority; unlawful transport of waste
- Maximum penalty in the case of an individual: $250,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, a further penalty of $60,000 for each day the offence continues;
- Maximum penalty in the case of a corporation: $1,000,000 and in the case of a continuing offence, a further penalty of $120,000
Tier 1 – wilful or negligent disposal of waste likely to cause or causing actual harm to the environment
- Maximum penalty in the case of an individual: $1,000,000 and/or seven (7 )years' imprisonment for wilful offences; $500,000 and/or four (4) years’ imprisonment for negligent offences
- Maximum penalty in the case of a corporation: $5,000,000 for wilful offences, $2,000,000 for negligent offences
For more information about illegal dumping laws and penalties, visit the NSW EPA’s website.
Report Illegal Dumping
Report a Dumper
You can report observations of illegal dumping on Council’s website. Go Dumped Rubbish Reporting.
If there is an immediate emergency such as toxic fumes or a large chemical spill, call 000 immediately.
Trolley Services Australia Pty Ltd provides an information service to all major retailers in NSW which include Woolworths, Dan Murphy’s, Franklins, Big W and Target.
We encourage the general public to contact Trolley Tracker or call free-call number 1800 641 497 to report the location of abandoned trolleys so they can be quickly collected and returned to the store where they belong.
For the return of Coles and Kmart trolleys call free-call number 1800 876 553 (1800 TROLLEY).
It is an offence under the Impounding Act 1993 to abandon a motor vehicle in a public place and penalties exceeding $550 may be issued.
In accordance with section 16 of the Impounding Act 1993 a vehicle may be impounded by an authorised officer and may be destroyed if its value is less than $500. A Council Officer will attend to the abandoned vehicle and commence an investigation into the ownership of the vehicle. Due to legislative requirements this may take between seven to fourteen days for the vehicle to be removed.
If you suspect a vehicle has been abandoned and you wish to report it, please contact Council on (02) 4560 4444 or email us. You will need to provide some details including the vehicles location, make, model and colour of the vehicle and any number plate.
Always ensure that when you are transporting waste your load is adequately covered, or you could face being fined. To report on uncovered loads, call Council on (02) 4560 4444.
Uncovered loads of waste can spill onto the road creating both safety hazards and pollution to the environment.
If you are carrying waste you need to make sure that:
- The load is covered and tied down
- You know what you are carrying
- Dust and other debris are not being blown off the load
- The waste is not spilling or leaking onto the road
- The waste is deposited at a landfill or resource recovery facility that can legally accept it
The Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2005 requires waste transported by a vehicle to be covered during its transportation. Ensure waste is transported safely and covered or risk a fine of $500.
- Heavy objects, such as bricks, rocks and concrete from vehicles that are uncovered, can dislodge and cause an accident or damage other vehicles on the road
- Uncovered loads of waste that spill onto the road create litter and dust that can cause breathing and vision problems for other road users such as cyclists, motorbike riders and pedestrians
- Dust, soil and litter that escape from uncovered vehicles can pollute the environment
If waste is illegally dumped and harms the environment, the maximum penalty is $5 million or seven (7) years' jail.
Transporting Waste to a Lawful Place
The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 requires waste to be transported to a place that can lawfully accept it. The owner of the waste and the transporter are each guilty of an offence when waste is transported to a place that cannot lawfully be used as a waste facility.
The Hawkesbury City Waste Management Facility (The Driftway, South Windsor) accepts a number of wastes items for free and for a cost. For more information please refer to the Hawkesbury City Waste Management Facility page or call the Weighbridge on (02) 4560 4444.
Avoiding Fines and Penalties
You can avoid incurring any fine or penalties by following the below guidelines:
- Know what types of waste are carried on your vehicle
- Check the council development consent and environment protection licence for the waste facility to make sure it can lawfully accept the waste
- Provide the waste facility with details of the waste (classification, name and address of its origin and quantity)
- Ensure any vehicle used for the transportation of waste is constructed and maintained to prevent spillage of waste
- Check the containers used to transport waste are secured safely on the vehicle
- Ensure that any waste that is transported by a vehicle is covered during its journey (unless the waste consists solely of tyres and / or scrap metal)
- Keep accurate written records of such as:
- Details of the waste (classification, name and address of its origin and quantity)
- Copies of waste dockets / receipts for the waste facility (date, time of delivery, name and address of the facility, it's ABN, contact person)
For further information on transporting waste in NSW please refer to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA’s) website.
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