Littering


What is 'litter' according to the law?

Under section 144A of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) 'litter' includes:

a) any solid or liquid domestic or commercial refuse, debris or rubbish including any glass, metal, cigarette butts, paper, fabric, wood, food, abandoned vehicles, abandoned vehicle parts, construction or demolition material, garden remnants and clippings, soil, sand or rocks, deposited in or on a place, whether or not it has any value when or after being deposited in or on the place

b) any other material, substance or thing deposited in or on a place if its size, shape, nature or volume makes the place where it has been deposited disorderly or detrimentally affects the proper use of that place.


What is 'depositing litter' according to the law?

Under section 144A of the POEO Act 'depositing litter’ in or on a place includes:

(a) dropping or throwing litter in, on, into or onto the place, or

(b) leaving litter in or on the place, or

(c) putting litter in such a location that it falls, descends, blows, is washed, percolates or otherwise escapes or is likely to fall, descend, blow, be washed, percolate or otherwise escape into or onto the place, or

(d) causing, permitting or allowing litter to fall, descend, blow, be washed, percolate or otherwise escape into or onto the place.


Examples of depositing litter:

  • throwing food wrappers or cigarette butts from a vehicle
  • leaving a food container under a park bench
  • stubbing a cigarette onto a footpath
  • tossing an apple core into a garden bed
  • allowing soil, sand or garden waste to blow from a moving vehicle.


Littering offences under the POEO Act (1997)

The littering offences are:

  • littering (including littering from vehicles): depositing litter on land or waters in a public place or an open private place
  • aggravated littering: littering which is reasonably likely to cause or contribute to appreciable danger or harm to any persons, animals, premises or property
  • depositing, or causing someone to deposit, advertising material in a public place or open private place other than in a mail box or under a door; it is illegal to deposit advertising material on property gates or fences or in other inappropriate areas where it has the potential to become litter
  • depositing, or causing someone to deposit, advertising material on any vehicle, e.g. under car windscreen wipers.


Report littering from a vehicle

If you see litter being discarded or blown from a vehicle you can report this to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). You will need to record details such as the vehicle registration, location, type of litter, date and time. When doing so make sure you do not compromise your safety. By reporting littering from motor vehicles, you can help raise awareness, reduce clean-up costs and keep NSW clean.


General littering

Littering is subject to a tiered range of fines under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997:

  • $80 for littering small items, such as bottle tops and cigarette butts
  • $250 for general littering,
  • $250 for an individual littering from a vehicle ($500 for corporations)
  • $450 for littering in dangerous circumstances, such as depositing a syringe or a lit cigarette ($900 for corporations).