26 September 2023

New laws to trash illegal litterbugs

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Tough new laws cracking down on littering and illegal dumping around the ACT have been passed by the Legislative Assembly.

Minister for City Services, Chris Steel said the new laws holistically addressed littering, in every form it might occur.

Mr Steel said Canberrans could expect better enforcement and penalties for people caught littering and illegally dumping.

“People who illegally dump waste around our city are on notice,” Mr Steel said.

“These laws give greater power to authorities to deal [with] individuals and businesses who choose who seek to spoil our environment or put the community at risk with illegal dumping and littering,” he said.

“The new laws are easier to enforce, with infringement notices able to be issued to the owners of vehicles involved in illegal dumping, similar to speeding fines.”

Mr Steel said the new laws increased the fine for dropping a small item of litter like a ticket or a coffee cup.

“Offenders will now face a $150 fine, instead of $65, if caught doing the wrong thing,” he said.

“Fines will escalate if you’re caught dropping items like a cigarette or a syringe with the introduction of a $500 fine.”

He said the new aggravated littering offence sent a strong message to the community about the impact of these items on the city.

“Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter on the planet, and have a significant impact on the environment releasing toxic chemicals and microplastics,” Mr Steel said.

“With a hotter and drier climate, cigarettes present a real fire risk to our bush capital, with 13 per cent of grass fires in the ACT started by cigarettes.”

He said hoarding around the Territory would also be better managed under the legislation, with the introduction of a staged approach addressing litter on private land.

“This framework does not criminalise the complex mental health issue of hoarding and we will work closely with mental health and community organisations and experts in dealing with individual matters and the development of a code of practice,” Mr Steel said.

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