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Over 12,000 fines for littering issued in twelve months

Article Category  Ag and Environment
Date Published  Thursday, August 2 2018
Photo  Photo credit: EPA Victoria

Over 12,000 fines for littering issued in twelve months
Victoria's Environmental Protection Agency issued over 12,000 fines last financial year for littering, with cigarettes being the most common type of rubbish reported.

EPA Executive Director Tim Eaton said some of the litter fines started with EPA officers making the report, but most reports came from members of the public who objected to offenders making a mess of their home state.

"When it comes to sheer numbers, cigarettes are the most common form of litter and the one most commonly reported to EPA by members of the public," Mr Eaton said.

"More than three-quarters of all litter reports to EPA involve cigarette butts tossed from vehicles, and more than half - 56% - of all reports involved a cigarette that was still burning," he said.

Unsurprisingly, other forms of litter that led to fines in 2017/18 included food packaging, drink containers and other small items, many of them made of plastics that can last for decades or even hundreds of years before they begin to break down.

The EPA issued more than 6,800 fines for burning cigarettes, 3,300 for discarded cigarette butts, and more than 2,100 fines for other types of litter. In total, 12,165 fines were issued for littering in 2017/18.

"The litter that people leave behind doesn't just go away; the clean-up costs the community millions in every year," Mr Eaton said.

"Litter does a lot of additional damage to the environment by contaminating the soil, choking our waterways and endangering native wildlife. And throwing a lit cigarette out of your car window is a serious fire hazard, particularly in summer," he said.

EPA's public litter reporting service, established in 2002, was the first of its kind in Australia. It gives members of the public a clear mechanism for reporting people who throw litter from a motor vehicle, by using the registration number to track down the alleged offender.

Members of the public can report litterers to EPA by visiting www.epa.vic.gov.au or by calling 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).

"To give the report the best chance of success, it's important to be willing to give evidence in court if the alleged offender challenges the fine, but if you get the details right, most of them just pay the fine," Mr Eaton said.

EPA needs the following information to be able to take action with a litter report:
  • Who? Car registration number, colour, whether it was the driver or passenger, and the gender of litterer
  • What? Lit or unlit cigarette or a description of the litter item
  • When? Exact time and date of offence
  • Where? Which road was the vehicle travelling on? What intersection was closest?
  • How? Was the litter thrown from the vehicle, dropped before exiting the vehicle or dropped before getting into the car?
You can also use EPA's 24-hour hotline 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842) to report other types of pollution, including illegal dumping, chemical spills and air pollution.

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