Outcomes in recent years show South Australia is leading the nation in achieving significant recycling rates and waste diversion. KESAB (Keep South Australia Beautiful), who has played an important role for many years, has effectively engaged with schools, councils and community in delivering litter campaigns, recycling and resource recovery education.
However illegal dumping is still a huge problem across the state, threatening the health of humans and wildlife and damaging the environment. Local offences range from dumping of domestic and commercial waste on roadsides and in bushland, often to avoid disposal fees, to non-licenced activities (eg. asbestos dumping), to general littering. KESAB have listed a ‘dirty dozen’ of general litter which include cigarette butts, paper and plastic items including food containers and utensils, confectionary wrappers, plastic sheeting, beverage containers (2% in SA compared to 14% in other States), cigarette packets and bottle tops and straws are the key offenders1.
In recognition of improving services to the community around litter regulation and local environmental nuisance, the South Australian Parliament has passed new legislation to support councils to deal with and penalise illegal dumping and littering. Thus the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Bill 2015 came into force on 1 February 2017. Previously, local councils and the EPA managed these issues, as it was not clearly outlined who was the best placed to investigate them. The EPA SA will retain responsibility for assisting councils to manage local nuisance complaints and for leading significant illegal dumping investigations, however councils will continue to manage smaller-scale unauthorised dumping cases. The new Act introduces higher penalties for the illegal dumping of asbestos, including a maximum $250,000 fine or two year’s imprisonment, whilst other changes include improving surveillance technology to gather evidence and allowing for public reporting of littering and illegal dumping by associating alleged offence to a vehicle’s registered owner. This effectively gives councils better tools for policing and enforcement. From 1 May 2017, fines will also be imposed to those caught littering from their vehicles following a 3-month grace period where warning letters were issued in lieu of fines. Fines will range from $210 for general litter, $500 for Class B hazardous litter which includes lit cigarettes or butts, used syringes and glass, and $1,000 for quantities of litter over 50 litres such as illegal dumping.
1Keep South Australia Beautiful Inc. (2015) KESAB Annual Report. Flinders Park SA 5025