Why are Australian highways littered with so many alcoholic containers?

Monday 18 February 2013

Media Contact Alice Morgan
Phone 02 9633 1943
Email alice@kab.org.au

The Keep Australia Beautiful ‘Branded Litter Study’ (BLS) released today has recorded the brands that feature prominently in litter across Australia. Keep Australia Beautiful provides the only independent national, annual benchmark of litter methodology which has been in place since 1983. Much of the trend data has remained similar; however the new trends that have emerged from the study have proven to be very interesting indeed.

What the Branded Litter Study found most concerning, is that alcoholic containers on highway locations remain very high with more than half (53.5%, down from 57.4% in 2007/08) of the branded alcoholic beverage containers and packaging recorded in the litter stream in 2011/12, followed by Car parks (11.8%, up from 11.2% in 2007/08).

When counted across all sites nationally, alcoholic beverage containers and packaging made up 16.2%, down from 19.5% in 2007/08, which obtained a higher count than even tobacco by almost half.

External research also suggests that alcohol related vehicle fatalities have significantly increased over the same period, pointing to a concerning trend.*

National Chief Executive Officer of Keep Australia Beautiful, Peter McLean said, “Trends identified in the 2011/12 BLS indicate that highway users are less likely to ‘Do the Right Thing’ and that the presence of so many alcoholic beverage containers one has to question the higher likelihood of drink driving, pushing our national road toll higher.”

Other trends emerging from the Branded Litter Study is that supermarket retailers are rapidly increasing their generic brands which are being represented in the branded litter stream. Supermarket owned brands (known as ‘private label’ or generic ‘house brands’) command a 25% market share, expected to rise to 30% in the future.

There is also an increase of both flavoured milk items, as well as energy drinks, which didn’t have as big an impact in the litter stream according to the previous BLS. The trends of energy drinks (not listed in previous branded study) in the branded litter stream highlight that 18-35 year old males, students and young revelers are big litterers as that is the age group who predominantly consume energy drinks. Energy drinks are often used as mixers for alcohol, and advertisers direct the product to the 18-35 age bracket. Flavoured milk items made up 19.6 % of all branded litter. Flavoured milk drink advertising is mainly aimed at young, blue collar, men who are identified as the biggest litterers.

Industry litter types such as non-alcoholic packaging, as well as take-away food and drink containers and packaging were the only two categories to increase, whereas all other litter categories have decreased since the previous study.

Mr McLean also went on to say that, “Keep Australia Beautiful will continue to work in partnership with Industry, Government and Community as we all need to take responsibility for reducing all types of litter. This research will allow us to reach out to those companies who currently aren’t doing enough to assist in the fight to prevent littering.”

The brand portion of the litter counted in 07/08 was 24%, while in 11/12 it fell to 19% largely due to a 15% reduction in the overall litter count from 07/08 to 11/12. The Branded Litter Study is principally funded by the National Packaging Covenant Industry Association (NPCIA).

Dozen Most Prevalent Brands Nationally as % of all Branded Litter

1. McDonald’s 12.78
2. Coca Cola 9.85
3. Cadbury 4.05
4. Winfield 2.70
5. Nestle 2.10
6. Red Bull 2.06
7. Hungry Jack’s 2.02
8. Carlton 1.99
9. Tooheys 1.84
10. V 1.83
11. Mt. Franklin 1.62
12. Victoria Bitter 1.47

– ENDS –

Litter Research
Keep Australia Beautiful National Association is committed to providing cost effective accurate data to inform the litter debate.

Keep Australia Beautiful conducts three forms of research:

1. The National Litter Index (NLI) is Australia’s only national, annual quantitative measure of what litter occurs where and in what volume. The NLI 11/12 Report was released by Keep Australia Beautiful in partnership with Governments of NSW, VIC, QLD, WA, SA, TAS, ACT, NT & National Packaging Covenant Industry Association (NPCIA).

2. The National Liter Index: Rural Highways. In addition to the eight current site types used for the National Litter Index, a new site type designated as ‘Rural Highways’ has been introduced to monitor litter item numbers and volumes in rural areas. 84 rural highway sites were selected and scoped for the National Litter Index.

3. The Branded Litter Study (BLS) provides information regarding the extent and distribution of branded litter across Australia. It is expected that this report will be used by brand owners in order to (1) determine the location(s) in which branded litter is most predominant and (2) measure the contribution of their own brands towards the overall litter stream.

Further, an understanding of which brands are in the litter stream and where they are found will help industry (i.e. the packaging supply chain) to meet its responsibilities under the National Packaging Covenant. Schedule 4 of the Covenant quotes: “The range of consumer packaging materials to be addressed in Action Plans should include in-house and distribution packaging (secondary and tertiary) and packaging-related aspects of litter.” The Covenant also requires signatories to: “Address issues of packaging litter and to contribute to improved consumer decision-making relating to the areas of consumption, value, use and disposal of packaging”.

Category results analysis throughout Australia shows that highway sites generally contributed the highest proportion of all branded litter across all eight litter type categories. These categories being: tobacco, flavoured milk beverage containers and packaging, retail brands and packaging, snacks wrappers and packets, non-alcoholic beverage containers and packaging, alcoholic beverage containers and packaging, take-away food and drink containers and packaging, and those classified as other litter.

*Recent figures from a 2011 report by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund shows that alcohol was a factor in up to 48% of road fatalities; whereas in 2007 research conducted on the prevalence of alcohol and other drugs in drivers killed in road crashes on Australian roads showed that alcohol was the most commonly detected drug at 29%. This might suggest that drink driving is on the increase.

For a break down and list of all branded litter statistics, The Branded Litter Study can be viewed at www.kab.org.au/litter-research/


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