CHAMPION COLUMN | Regional campaign reduces butts by 46 per cent

BUTT, BUTT, BUTT: One of the street theatre campaigns to encourage smokers not to litter.
BUTT, BUTT, BUTT: One of the street theatre campaigns to encourage smokers not to litter.

Just watch your butt!

The latest regional litter program by WSROC got a 46 per cent cut in cigarette litter across key Western Sydney shopping strips. Run in partnership with eight local councils, Bin Your Butts was part of efforts to tackle Western Sydney’s $14 million per year litter clean-up bill under the Western Sydney Regional Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy.

Run last year between March and September, Bin Your Butts included installing 11 new butt bins and a range of education and enforcement activities.

Cigarettes may seem small but they make up most of the litter across our region. Each time someone drops a butt on the ground they’re diverting resources from important work like bush regeneration, community centres, public parks and footpaths.

These results show Western Sydney is embracing the new butt bins and shows most people care about keeping their community clean.

Councils also used a mix of street performers, multi-lingual educators, street art and enforcement officers to raise awareness of butt disposal. Engaging with residents was important. Many people who litter do so out of habit, not even thinking about it. When you ask them to stop and consider what they’re doing that can make all the difference.

Designated smoking areas were also installed at several locations as a trial. While we don’t encourage residents to smoke, we do encourage them to dispose of their butts responsibly. Allocating a designated smoking area with appropriate disposal facilities increases the likelihood that butts will end up in the bin where they belong.

Council rangers issued 23 litter fines and spoke to 101 smokers about correctly disposing their butts.

Enforcement was important but these results show it’s not about revenue raising. We’d rather talk to residents and give them the chance to do the right thing. We all want to see cleaner, more liveable communities.

This project is a NSW EPA Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.

BARRY CALVERT, President

Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils

Comments