Littering and dumping not only makes our city and natural areas look dirty and uncared for, it can also have significant adverse health, safety, financial and environmental impacts.

Report littering and dumping

If you see someone littering or dumping you should report it. Littering is a major issue in Queensland, polluting our environment and costing millions of dollars to manage and clean-up each year.

Many of our public spaces are being ruined by littering and dumping. You can help stop it by reporting it.

Report to council:

  • To lodge a complaint regarding littering or illegal dumping visit council's complaints webpage and follow council's complaints process or call (07) 3810 6666.

Report to Queensland Government:

Record the following details if you witness littering or dumping:

  • Vehicle Registration Number
  • Date of the incident
  • Time of the incident
  • Place of the incident
  • Type of waste/litter
  • Details of the vehicle (make, model, colour, etc.)
  • Description of the person depositing the litter or waste (e.g. rear passenger, male)

Information and fact sheets

Littering and dumping is illegal and a fine may be incurred by offenders.

Offenders may also be required to restore the area to its previous natural condition. Every reasonable attempt will be made by council to locate the owner of the illegally dumped materials and if council can identify the person responsible for littering or dumping, council may take one or more of the following actions:

  • Issue a warning
  • Issue a compliance/clean-up notice giving the offender information on how to remedy the offence
  • Issue the offender with an on-the-spot fine
  • Prosecute the offender through a Court process

Fact sheets and more resources

Definitions and offences

Littering is defined as the unlawful disposal of any type of domestic or commercial waste material in an amount of less than 200 litres in volume (approximate volume of a standard wheelie bin) and can include:

  • cigarette butts, drink bottles and fast food packaging thrown out of a vehicle or other vessel
  • material falling off a trailer because it was uncovered or poorly secured
  • food scraps thrown into a garden in a park
  • household goods left on the footpath in the hope that someone else will pick it up.

Dumping is defined as the unlawful deposit of any type of domestic, commercial or industrial waste in an amount of 200 litres or more in volume (approximate volume of a standard wheelie bin) and can include:

  • household rubbish and garden waste thrown over the back fence into the local park or bushland
  • household goods (e.g. whitegoods, TVs, mattresses, furniture) left on the footpath with a 'free' sign or left outside a charity bin or shop
  • disposing of building waste (construction and demolition materials) in other businesses industrial bins
  • dropping off tyres, chemical drums and paint tins at roadside rest stops
  • driving into bushland, national parks and council reserves and dumping any type of waste.

Kerbside dumping appears to be a widespread cultural practice in many urban areas. It is the act of placing unwanted items on the kerbside outside of official kerbside collection dates. It is expected that these items can then be collected by passers-by or that council officers will retrieve and dispose of the items appropriately.

Many people are unaware that this behaviour is illegal and can carry heavy fines.

Illegal dumping at charity bins

The amount of poor quality items and rubbish dumped at charity bins and outside of charity shops is a major issue in Queensland. Good quality items are also going to waste as they are left exposed to the weather, can be scavenged through or taken, and can become a danger to public safety. Cleaning this up costs charities thousands of dollars each year, on top of losses of saleable goods—reducing their capacity to deliver important lifesaving services in the community.

Remember to place items inside a charity bin or donate in-store.

If your item is left next to a bin or outside a store it is considered littering or illegal dumping and fines apply.

Penalties

Heavy penalties apply for littering or dumping of waste. These penalties are set by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science. For more information on the fines imposed for littering and dumping visit the Department of Environment and Science Penalty Infringement Notices webpage

How you can help

Environmental and social impact

Illegal dumping has serious environmental and social impacts. Not only is dumping unsightly, it degrades the surrounding environment, reduces property value and costs ratepayers a substantial amount of money each year in clean-up costs. Some forms of illegal dumping, such as disposing of chemicals or asbestos, can directly cause harm or injury to humans and wildlife and/or lead to pollution of the environment.

Responsibilities of residents and visitors

  • Always make sure you dispose of your rubbish responsibly.
  • The majority of general household waste can be disposed of in council’s supplied green or red-lidded waste bins and recyclable items can be placed in the yellow-lidded bins.
  • Excess amounts of household waste, including green waste, recyclables, tyres, vehicles, furniture and white goods should be taken to the nearest landfill facility or transfer station (for locations and opening times visit council's Refuse and Recycle Centres webpage).
  • Construction and demolition materials should be taken to the appropriate disposal facilities.
  • Large scale waste from commercial operators and skip hire companies should be taken to the appropriate disposal facilities.
  • Instead of throwing out unwanted items, try to recycle them so they can be turned into something new or used by someone else.
  • Educate your friends and family about illegal dumping and the negative impact it has on our environment.

The law

In 2011 Queensland’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 (WRR Act) was introduced into legislation, and aims to:

  • promote waste avoidance and reduction, resource recovery and efficiency actions
  • reduce the consumption of natural resources and minimise the disposal of waste by encouraging waste avoidance and the recovery, re-use and recycling of waste
  • minimise the overall impact of waste generation and disposal
  • ensure a shared responsibility between government, business and industry and the community in waste management and resource recovery
  • support and implement national frameworks, objectives and priorities for waste management and resource recovery.

The WRR Act provides legislation to manage litter and illegal dumping in Queensland. Under the WRR Act, it is an offence for a person to unlawfully deposit waste.

The WRR Act identifies litter and illegal dumping offences as:

  • littering under 200L, including littering from a vehicle or vessel
  • dangerous littering under 200L
  • illegal dumping—200L or more, to less than 2500L
  • illegal dumping—2500L and over.

Dangerous littering is litter that causes or is likely to cause harm to a person, property or the environment. This includes throwing a lit cigarette butt onto dry grass in high fire danger conditions, leaving a syringe in a public place, or smashing a glass bottle on the footpath.

The WRR Act allows members of the public who have witnessed a littering or illegal dumping incident the opportunity to report it. The law also allows authorised persons to issue penalty infringement notices (fines) as well as compliance notices for the clean-up of the illegal dumping. This may involve the collection, transportation, storage, treatment or disposal of the waste to ensure the impact on the environment is minimised and the person responsible does not impose a cost to the administering authority.

If a person fails to comply with a compliance notice they may face further penalties.

Littering and illegal dumping penalties

Offence

Penalty

General littering $266
Dangerous littering (e.g. glass bottle thrown from a vehicle, cigarette into dry grass) $533
Dumping Minimum fine $2,135

Releasing balloons

Balloons are a symbol of celebration, used to mark life’s special occasions. It can be easy to forget about the consequence of a released balloon during these memorable moments—but the aftermath can be deadly.

Whether balloons are intentionally or accidentally released, they can end up hundreds of kilometres from where they were released, causing great harm to the environment and wildlife.

In Queensland, the release of balloons into the environment is considered littering under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011—whether released deliberately or by accident.

While a person may have the permission of the occupier of a place to release a balloon, once the balloon leaves that place it becomes litter.

The law does not differentiate between different types of littered material and whether the waste is biodegradable or not. The release of single or multiple balloons can constitute either littering or an illegal dumping depending on the volume of material released.

More info.

Junk mail

Unsolicited advertising material (or junk mail) is advertising material, for a commercial purpose, not addressed by name to an owner or occupier of the premises.

Common examples of unsolicited advertising material (UAM) include takeaway food vouchers, shop catalogues, magazines, leaflets from real estate agents, refrigerator magnets or letters advertising the services of a tradesperson, as well as letters addressed ‘to the householder’ or ‘to the occupier’.

There are exceptions that apply to the delivery of community newspapers.

Material that does not contain advertising content for a commercial purpose are not classed as UAM, and can therefore be placed in your letterbox. Common examples are political campaign material, letters from neighbourhood watch groups, correspondence advising of lost animals, local council newsletters and infringement notices (e.g. parking fine attached to a vehicle).

The following actions can be taken (Queensland only):

Situation

Action

Unsolicited advertising material (UAM) is being left on the ground

If you haven’t already lodged a complaint with the Distribution Standards Board please contact them first.

If you are still receiving UAM after lodging a complaint with the Distribution Standards Board, you can complete the department’s UAM reporting form*

I have a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign (or similar) but I am still receiving UAM

If you haven’t already lodged a complaint with the Distribution Standards Board please contact them first.

If you are still receiving UAM after lodging a complaint with the Distribution Standards Board, you can complete the department’s UAM reporting form*

Newspapers are being left on the ground

It is not illegal for newspapers to be left on the ground at your premises. You can however, request that it no longer be delivered.

I don’t want to receive newspapers

Contact the newspaper in writing and request that the paper no longer be delivered to the premises. Retain a copy of your request.

The newspaper is now UAM and can only be delivered to your mailbox (or similar).

If you have a clearly visible sign saying ‘No Junk Mail’ (or similar) the newspaper now should not be delivered to the premises.

You can now report the newspaper as UAM.

*Your address will be disclosed to the distributor and deliverer for the purpose of rectifying delivery of advertising material only, and is not used or disclosed for any other purpose.

Further information relating to the provisions can be obtained through the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011.