While Australia has seen a slight decrease in its litter rates, the 2014/15 National Litter Index has shown a significant problem with cigarettes, plastics and paperboard objects.

Keep Australia Beautiful has released its 2014/15 National Litter Index (NLI) report six months early to help those making submissions on the NSW EPA’s Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) discussion paper.

Cigarette butts remain the most pervasive litter item nationally with 22 butts per 1,000m2 identified across all sites during the year of 2014/15 (down from 23 butts in 2013/14).

Although cigarette butts are the most frequently identified litter item, they are only associated with the smallest proportion of the overall litter volume (0.002 litres per 1,000m2).

Plastic materials and paper/ paperboard objects also contributed strongly with the number of items per 1,000m2 to the litter stream during 2014/15, while smaller numbers of litter items per 1,000m2 were recorded for metal (4 items) and glass (1 item).

Plastic litter objects contributed the largest amount of volume per 1,000m2 nationally to the litter stream in 2014/15, accounting for 1.86 litres of volume and paper/ paperboard objects were associated with the second largest volume of with an average of 1.43 litres of litter volume.

Smaller estimated volumes of litter were recorded for metal (0.78 litres) and glass (0.35 litres).

Glass objects included beverage containers and plastic items included plain water containers, flavoured milk cartons, shopping bags and food containers or utensils.

Paper and paperboard items included cigarette packets and publications, and metal objects included aerosol items.

Most litter was dumped on highways (18%), followed by residential areas (17%) and car parks (15%). Other places of litter included the beach, industrial areas, shopping centres and parks.

Now in its 10th consecutive year, the National Litter Index is a nationally consistent, annual, quantitative litter study.

Twice a year a team of independent researchers count and categorise the litter visible in 983 sites across Australia.

Each August, during Keep Australia Beautiful Week, the survey results are released so that governments, industry and the general public can assess the progress made in litter prevention. The NLI report details the quantity and estimated volume of various litter items across each state and territory and each site type.

The most recent report includes, for the first time, extra data on graffiti and infrastructure (bins and litter signage).

The NSW CDS stakeholder consultation is open until 26 February.

Find the report here.

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