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Littering statistics a wakeup call for improvement

Tasmanians have been urged to redouble their efforts to combat littering after disappointing results from the most recent Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index.

The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, David O’Byrne, said the results of the index are a wake-up call for all Tasmanians and indicate that everyone can do better when it comes to disposing of litter in the appropriate manner.

"Tasmania’s environment is a beautiful, pristine asset that we should all be proud of and look after," Mr O'Byrne said.

"Reducing littering is everyone’s responsibility and to simply throw rubbish, including cigarette butts, out the car window is simply not good enough. People will be caught and fined if they continue to flaunt litter laws.

"To see these results, which clearly show some Tasmanians are not looking after their beautiful home state, is disheartening.

"It was also disappointing to see other Australian states have improved their litter counts whilst Tasmania has substantially slipped the other way.

"I have urgently referred this matter to the Waste Advisory Committee for urgent advice. I also urge the public to make use of the litter hotline to report litterers.".

Keep Australia Beautiful Tasmania chairman, Ken Stewart, said he shared Mr O’Byrne’s concern at the survey results.

"I am dismayed at the number of items and the quantity of items, both generally and particularly on our highways," Mr Stewart said.

"There seems to have been a gradual cultural shift that the strong message of Do the Right Thing with litter is not getting through.".

Mr Stewart said he supported litter educational programs and fines for people who litter.

The National Litter Index surveys litter at 1,059 sites across Australia twice each year.

During the past two years both the litter count in Tasmania has increased considerably in relation to the national average. Tasmania is now well above the national average, whereas it used to be below.

Increases in litter during 2009/10 mainly occurred in industrial and general retail areas. Industrial areas have shown a steady increase over the past five years. Significant increases were also observed in car parks and shopping centres.

Cigarette butts were the most common littered item. Plastics, paper, cardboard and metal also increased.

In 2009/10, litter data for regional highways were included in the NLI survey for the first time. The volume of litter found alongside Tasmania’s regional highways was more than double the national average.

Members of the public can report littering offences via the litter hotline number on 1300 135 513 or by visiting www.environment.tas.gov.au/litter.