Enforcement is naturally unpopular, but is an integral part of the 'stick that follows the carrot' approach to achieving behaviour change. It is necessary to deter those who do not otherwise heed simple, friendly messages.
That's why enforcement is the last of the Butt FREE Solutions – following on from awareness, education and infrastructure, all within their appropriate context.
The Butt FREE Toolkit shows you how enforcement will fit into any litter reduction projects you might be planning.
It is important to remember that, when it comes to butt littering behaviour, enforcement is not just about enforcing litter laws. It also serves as an education tool, raising awareness of littering as an issue and highlighting a major problem: some people simply don't think of cigarette butts as litter.
Historically there is a low level of activity in litter enforcement, as many other priorities compete for the time and attention of enforcement officers. As awareness of the impacts of butt littering increases, however, this is slowly changing.
Litter enforcement around Australia is also very complex. Each state and territory has its own legislation covering the scope, offences, fines and officers authorised to issue a litter infringement notice. Even the terminology varies.
Local governments are able to enforce litter laws through 'authorised officers', often known as local laws officers or rangers. Councils may also have their own 'litter laws' to deal with littering issues.
Authorised officers may also be from a government authority, such as an Environment Protection, Water or Parks, an Environment or Conservation government department for example, or other government agency that has a specific management function, such as a port or foreshore authority. All police officers are also authorised officers for the purposes of litter law enforcement.
Our links provide the quickest and easiest way to access the agency responsible for litter legislation in your state or territory, and a search for 'litter laws' will generally get you where you need to go.
Fines for littering cigarette butts vary from state to state and territory. They may also vary according to whether it is an individual or corporation, and the circumstances, such as throwing a cigarette from a car and whether or not the butt is lit.
Reporting littering behaviour also varies around Australia. By far the most successful model is the Victorian Litter Report Line that allows members of the public to report anyone they see littering from a motor vehicle by calling 1300 EPA VIC, (1300 372 842) or visiting www.epa.vic.gov.au.
Western Australia has a litter reporting scheme through Keep Australia Beautiful WA, where littering can be registered and reported online by visiting www.kabc.wa.gov.au
In Tasmania, littering can be reported online by visiting www.environment.tas.gov.au/litter or calling 1300 135 513 to obtain a Littering from a Motor Vehicle report form.
In New South Wales, litterers can be reported by going to www.environment.nsw.gov.au/esdlitteringapp. However an Enforcement Officer must witness an offence for a fine to be issued, so only an advisory letter saying that they have been observed littering and providing information on the penalties that apply to littering can be sent.
In Queensland, litterers can be reported by going to www.ehp.qld.gov.au/.
Litter reports in the ACT can be made through Canberra Connect (13 22 81) or by faxing a litter report form to the City Rangers. This process differs from other states in that each report is followed up by the Rangers, before determining whether or not a fine will be issued.
While no other state- or territory-wide reporting systems exist at this stage, some councils have their own hotlines or reporting systems Your local council will be able to tell you what applies in your area.
- Victoria: www.epa.vic.gov.au and Litter Report Line 1300 EPA VIC or 1300 372 842
- Queensland: www.ehp.qld.gov.au/
- New South Wales: www.environment.nsw.gov.au
- South Australia: www.epa.sa.gov.au
- Tasmania: www.environment.tas.gov.au
- Northern Territory: www.nt.gov.au/nreta/environment
- ACT: www.tams.act.gov.au
- Western Australia: www.dec.wa.gov.au