The war against illegal dumping and littering
What is illegal dumping?
Illegal dumping is the unlawful deposit of waste larger than litter onto land. It includes waste material that has been dumped, tipped or otherwise deposited onto private or public land where no licence or approval exists to accept such waste. Illegal dumping varies from small bags of rubbish in an urban environment to large scale illegal landfills.
The incidence of illegal dumping continues to increase for all councils and there is evidence that some perpetrators are becoming more organised and covert in their operations and are prepared to dump outside their local government area. To combat this growing threat, councils need to be better coordinated and increase their surveillance, intelligence gathering and enforcement in cooperation with neighbouring councils. Local and regional communities need to be informed of the impacts of illegal dumping and of the risks of being caught and prosecuted.
Illegal dumping of household items continues to be a widespread problem across the Kiama Municipality. Dumped items are unsightly, and encourage others to add to the pile causing it to become dangerous.
Illegal dumping costs NSW councils around $10 million each year. Dumping of rubbish is an offence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and offenders could be subject to fines of at least $1000.
Public place bins
We have adopted a policy to address the illegal disposal of domestic, rural, business, commercial, industrial, building construction and demolition waste in public place litter bins.
The Disposal of Waste in Public Place Bins policy applies to all public places, Council facilities, streets, parks and reserves, and other areas where public place litter bins are located in the Municipality.
Litter has gone from being viewed primarily as an aesthetic problem to a broader environmental issue with wide ranging environmental problems. Litter has been defined as the deposit of waste at a place that is an amount less than 200 litres 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.
Litter builds up next to roads, can block gutters and finds its way into creeks, rivers and onto beaches. It harms and kills wildlife. Plastic waste can choke and suffocate birds and marine life. Soil and garden waste spreads pests and weeds, including fire ants and lantana. Organic waste such as food scraps, contributes to algae blooms in waterways. Cigarette butts comprise of 90% of 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.
Every year an enormous amount of money, volunteer hours and energy is spent in cleaning up litter waste.
Report littering from vehicles
If you see litter being discarded or blown from a vehicle you can report this to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). You will need to record details such as the vehicle registration, location, type of litter, date and time. When doing so make sure you do not compromise your safety. By reporting littering from motor vehicles, you can help raise awareness, reduce clean-up costs and keep NSW clean.
How to report littering from a vehicle.
Reducing litter and combating illegal dumping is a focus area under the NSW Government's Reducing Waste Implementation Strategy 2011-2015. In addition, Goal 22 of the NSW State plan targets illegal dumping with a goal of reducing the incidence of large scale illegal dumping detected in Sydney, the Illawarra, Hunter and Central Coast by 30% prior to 2016.
To meet this goal, we have developed its Illegal Dumping and Litter Strategy which aims to:
- monitor incidents, locations and actions
- raise awareness, educate and inform the community about illegal dumping and littering and its impacts, costs, consequences and community action
- reduce incidents of illegal dumping and littering detection, enforcement and prevention
- provide infrastructure and services to minimise illegal dumping and littering.
How you can help - Call the Illegal Dumping Hotline 131 555
We have a comprehensive enforcement and education program regarding illegal dumping. However, we still need your help. If you see anyone dumping rubbish in the Kiama Municipality area, please make a note of:
- the time, date, and location of the event
- a description of any vehicles involved, including the number plate details
- any further information that may help to identify the offender
- contact the 24 hour Environment line on 131 555 for further investigation
- complete this illegal dumping observation form and submit to us
- phone us (02) 4232 0444 or email with details.
You can also report littering from vehicles through the EPA website using the reporting portal - www.epa.nsw.gov.au/litter/from-vehicle.htm. This recording system enables the issuing of a penalty notice based on a public report of littering from a motor vehicle. There are a number of conditions and responsibilities associated with the reporting which are explained by the EPA on their website.
South Coast councils are continuing to combat Illegal dumping under a regional program aimed at educating the local community, identifying offenders and cleaning up their mess.
The regional program is coordinated by the Illawarra Pilot Joint Organisation through funding from the NSW EPA under the Waste Less Recycle More initiative. Participating councils include Bega, Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven, Kiama, Shellharbour, Wollongong and Wingecarribee covering an area of more than 18,000 square kilometres.
In the Kiama LGA, there was a total of 234 illegal dumping incidents recorded in the 2013-14 reporting period. Of these incidents, 17 offenders were identified. In addition, four cameras and one Go-Pro camera were purchased to assist in monitoring hot spots.
Councils are calling on the community to report illegally dumped material and any suspicious activity involving the transport and dumping of waste. New signs have been installed across the region to highlight the need to report illegal dumping.
With the focus solely on illegal dumping, the RID program is providing councils with access to additional resources to investigate and clean up, undertake prevention measures at hotspots and identify offenders. Local signage and cameras have been installed, regular blitzes are being conducted and access is being blocked to a number of known dumping sites.
With so many accessible tracks to out of the way places, Illegal dumping is a significant problem for the region. Dumped waste has the potential to pose a health risk to the community as well as causing significant harm to the local environment.
With a large proportion of dumped waste being building waste, asbestos, tyres, mattresses, general household waste and whitegoods, residents wanting to dispose of excess material are encouraged to make use of the many services and facilities on offer for the disposal of household and problem wastes.
Many of the options are free or low cost and allow for the recycling of e-waste, chemicals, batteries, reusable items, metals and whitegoods.
Residents with information about the illegal transport and dumping of waste are encouraged to contact the 24- hour Environment Line on 131 555.
On the spot fines for individuals are up to $4000 and $8000 for corporations.