Published On: March 18th, 2019

The Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index (NLI) has now been released showing positive trends across the Nation, and identifying areas of opportunity.

The NLI is Australia’s only annual set of quantitative measures of what litter occurs where and in what volume. Litter counts are carried out twice annually across 983 sites nationally to create an annual report on litter.

CEO of Keep Australia Beautiful, Ms Val Southam said that, the organisation’s aim was to build a deeper understanding of “what” is being littered and “where”, and how that is changing over time.

In 2017/18, the NLI counted an overall litter reduction of 10.3 per cent less ‘items’ than in the same period in 2016/17. The most significant decreases observed are 16.8 per cent reduction in take away food and beverage packaging, a 14 per cent reduction in CDS beverage containers and a 6.4 per cent reduction in cigarette litter.

The biggest reductions overall by site types monitored are 22.5 per cent at beaches, 21.8 per cent at industrial sites and 12.9 per cent at retail precincts.

The top ten most littered items nationally are:1

Cigarette butts (and their packaging)
Plastic snack bags and confectionary wrappers
Plastic straws
Plastic bottle tops
Metal bottle tops and can ring pulls
Carbonated soft drink and flavoured water in cans (all sizes)
Paperboard cups and paperboard takeaway food containers
Plastic takeaway containers and plastic ups
Paper shopping dockets and shopping lists
Paperboard coffee cups
Measured both by ‘item’ and by ‘volume’, littering challenges still exist in shopping centres, residential areas, and highways. The highest littered sites by items counted were highways, however volumetrically, industrial sites were the worst affected.

“An interesting observation is that over and above the identifiable items counted there is a massive number of uncategorised, unidentified items that actually sit at number two on the list,” said Ms Southam.

“It is great that we are seeing downward trends but there is much more to be done to educate and encourage consumers to Do the Right Thing™ together with Keep Australia Beautiful.”

1This does not include miscellaneous items of litter that are not categorised, readily identifiable or have broken down into small pieces