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What is littering?

Littering is the unlawful depositof any type of waste material of an amount less than 200 litres in volume (about the volume of an average wheelie bin).

Common littered items include:

  • cigarette butts
  • drinks bottles and fast food packaging
  • food scraps like apple cores
  • green waste such as palm fronds and grass clippings
  • fishing tackle

Is this littering?

  • Leaving items beside an overflowing bin.
    • Yes.
  • Leaving items under your seat at a sports stadium.
    • Yes.
  • Leaving a newspaper on public transport.
    • Yes.
  • Household goods left on the footpath in the hope that someone else will take it.
    • Yes.
  • Material falling off a trailer because it was uncovered or poorly secured.
    • Yes.

Dangerous littering is litter that causes, or is likely to cause, harm to a person, property or the environment. This may include throwing a lit cigarette butt into bushland, leaving a hypodermic needle in a park, smashing a glass bottle on the footpath, or throwing an item from a moving vehicle at a pedestrian or cyclist.

The delivery of unsolicited advertising material and free newspapers are not classed as littering. Unsolicited advertising material is managed separately and has its own specific management obligations.

Why is littering a problem?

Littering and illegal dumping is a serious issue. It pollutes our environment and significantly diminishes the use, enjoyment and value of our public places for residents and tourists. It can facilitate the spread of disease and pest species, and harm wildlife, people and livestock.

Littering and illegal dumping costs Queensland businesses and communities millions of dollars each year in waste management, including clean-up expenses. Queenslanders want and deserve a clean and safe environment with the majority saying it’s not OK to use our environment as a rubbish dump.

Littered items are one of the most visible forms of pollution in the environment. It makes our communities appear dirty and uncared for, unpleasant to be in, and less likely to be used by the public. It also adversely impacts on the environment. Litter dropped in streets, along the side of the road, or in bushland can be washed or blown into creeks and rivers and ultimately pollutes land, waterways and ocean environments.

Litter can be responsible for injuring or killing wildlife—they can become entangled in fishing line and other plastics, or mistake plastic for food.

See it, report it, stop it

The Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 gives people the opportunity to report a littering or illegal dumping incident that occurs from a motor vehicle, trailer or vessel. 

The department will investigate each reported incident of littering or illegal dumping received. If sufficient evidence has been provided to support the complaint, a penalty infringement notice (fine) will be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle. Refer to Queensland's littering and illegal dumping laws for full information on fine amounts.

Last updated
19 July 2017