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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

13 August 2006

Further funding announced in the battle against litter

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, today warned that Australians risked losing the battle against litter, especially cigarette butts.

Announcing the results of the National Litter Index in May this year, Senator Campbell said he was disappointed at the increased level of litter.

“I am particularly alarmed at the significant increase in cigarette butt litter since the last count in November last year,” he said.

“Cigarette butts made up around 46 per cent of the litter stream in that survey. The latest index indicates that they now make up 49 per cent.

“Cigarette butt litter is an environmental menace – Australians discard around 7.5 billion butts each year. Not just an eyesore, cigarette butts contain toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead and zinc which leach into our soil and waterways when the butts break down.”

The Index, conducted by Keep Australia Beautiful, measures the amounts and types of litter found across Australia. Senator Campbell also announced another $140,000 Australian Government funding for surveys in 2006-07.

“Since the reintroduction of this programme in November 2005, the National Litter Index has uncovered the plain, hard truth that Australia has a serious, growing litter problem.

“Latest results show a marked increase in litter such as plastic, glass, metal, paper and cigarette butts. Motorists have a lot to answer for, with highways proving to be the most littered places, followed closely by industrial and parking areas.

“I am pleased that the Index will continue next year and that Australian Government is leading a consortium of Australian, state and territory governments in supporting this valuable work.”

Senator Campbell said the Australian, State and Territory governments had agreed to develop an action plan to combat cigarette butt litter and he had written to chief executives of tobacco companies to work up steps industry can take to address the problem.

The National Chairman of Keep Australia Beautiful, Don Chambers, said there had been an increase in litter from people consuming food, drink and confectionery away from home.

“Between the November and May rounds of research, clothing and plastic cups have gone out of the ‘dirty dozen’ most littered items and have been replaced by lollipop sticks and shopping receipts,” Mr Chambers said.

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Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Commonwealth of Australia