Peter Mclean, the CEO of Keep Australia Beautiful gives us his view on litter


There is one thing that all Australians can agree on - littering is unacceptable and at Keep Australia Beautiful we are doing all we can to change littering behaviour.

Since 2003 we have been monitoring littering rates in Australia annually through our unique quantitative survey, The Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index.

Recently we launched the 2012/13 results and pleasingly they showed that over the past year litter in Australia reduced 3.4% by item and 1.8% by volume. It also showed there has been an overall 20% reduction in litter by item and 31% reduction by volume over the past 8 years.

This continued reduction is due to a number of programs operating around Australia, some of which have been implemented by Keep Australia Beautiful, and an increasing level of cooperation and collaboration in this important area across the community, government and business. 

The state of Victoria is the leader of the pack, performing exceptionally well and bringing the national average down through their individual litter reduction of 59% in items and volume over the past 8 years.  This can be attributed to their long-term bipartisan and cooperative strategies on litter prevention.

Whilst it is great to see a reduction in the national figures, there is no doubt that more still needs to be done, and particularly in those states that aren’t performing to the level of Victoria.

Breaking down the results overall, it was beaches, car parks and retail sites which contributed to this year’s small reduction in litter by item, whilst the small reduction in volume was noted through industrial, recreational parks and retail sites.   

We also saw a reduction in most litter ‘types’ nationally, which contributed to the overall reduction in littering found in 2012/13. However, It was the pronounced drop in illegal dumping that contributed mostly to the slight drop in volume overall.

This year-on-year data is useful as it helps us to measure the effectiveness of our behavioural change campaigns working with industry, government and the community to target and address key litter issues.

The Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index (NLI) is Australia’s only national, annual, quantitative measure of what litter occurs where and in what volume. Litter counts are done twice annually across 983 sites nationally to create an annual report on litter in each State and Territory that can be compared against the national average.

The NLI is independent, audited research.

The research is both by volume and item, and covers beaches, car parks, highways, shopping centres as well as other urban areas.

For more information on Keep Australia Beautiful’s latest anti-littering program, go to www.litteringiswrongtoo.org.au and check out the new campaign which aims to show how wrong littering is by highlighting other socially unacceptable behaviours.

The most original, quirky and/or humorous entry selected each week over five weeks will receive $500 and have the potential to be featured in future Keep Australia Beautiful publicity campaigns. 

Want to find out more about the Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index go to: KAB National Litter Index 2012/13