WHAT KIWIS LITTER

The Packaging Forum has released results from its second National Litter Survey. Conducted by independent consultancy Waste Not Consulting Ltd, the survey provides an analysis of visible loose litter across eight regions of New Zealand. It is the second survey of its kind and provides a direct comparison with the first litter survey that was released in 2015.

The National Litter Survey, released alongside The Clean Communities Assessment Tool (CCAT), identifies the amount of visible and bulky litter and where it is found, whilst the CCAT surveys measure local efforts at litter prevention by rating landscaping, bin design, maintenance and servicing.  The CCAT assesses other features within the control of owners or caretakers that influence littering, bin use and litter accumulation and includes a traditional count of all litter items present as well as the observation of littering behaviour on site.

Lyn Mayes, Manager of The Public Place Recycling Scheme (PPRS), said it’s important for us to know which containers are most often littered and where these are found so sustainable litter management solutions can be found.

“This latest litter survey provides a snapshot and a comparison which will be utilised in conjunction with qualitative CCAT surveys conducted by project partner Be a Tidy Kiwi.

“The study found that snack food packaging represented 10.5% of all litter; drinks bottles, cans and cartons 10.1%; soft plastic packaging 8.8%; and disposable cups, lids and straws 6.1%.” said Mayes. “Paper fast food packaging represented 3.5%.”

“Not surprisingly, litter in parks, playgrounds, sports fields and waterside walkways contain more food packaging and less drinks-related packaging than the average for the other types of sites.”

The National Litter Survey 2017/18 report provides a snapshot of visible and bulky litter counted in eight regions representing 52% of the population (Auckland, Blenheim, Christchurch, Dunedin, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Taupo and Wellington).

Around 56% of this litter was packaging equivalent to 16 items per 1000m2 of public place surveyed, indicating a reduction of 5% from the 2015 survey. The sites with the greatest density of litter were arterial roads and industrial areas with 58.4% and 57.9% items per 1000m2. Car parks and waterside walkways had the lowest densities of litter (12.9% and 9.1% respectively).

Bruce Middleton, Director, Waste Not Consulting, said, “A total of 17,735 items of visible and bulky litter were counted in an area estimated to be 581,764m2. The survey found an average of 30.5 items of litter per 1000m2. In the 2014/15 survey of exactly the same area, a total of 18.620 items were counted (32.0 litter items per 1000m2),” Middleton said.

“44% of litter is non-packaging related with paper (junk mail, newspapers and other types of paper such as receipts) representing the largest proportion of non-packaging litter at 18.4%.”

“In addition to the actual counting of visible and bulky litter, a subjective assessment was made of the overall transect cleanliness, based on the number and visual intrusiveness of the litter items that were present.  65% of transects were assessed as being virtually or mostly free of visible litter. This compares with 87% in 2015.”

Bruce Middleton said that the reduction in litter items and the lower grading of the sites could be due to the number of storm events and heavy rainfall throughout the country during the summer of 2017/18:

“These events resulted in more litter being washed off footpaths and roadways and accumulating in kerbside channels and storm-water drains.”

Lyn Mayes said that the National Litter Survey and the CCAT survey released by Be a Tidy Kiwi are complementary and paint a picture of litter in New Zealand.

“The results from the first litter survey influenced the development of a national campaign, ‘Let’s Put Litter in its Place’ in partnership with Be a Tidy Kiwi. Conducting regular surveys is important to track progress. We will also conduct both surveys in Marlborough, Queenstown, Rotorua and Tauranga in the next few months to assess the impact of the new smart technology recycling and rubbish bins.”

The $2.4 million joint project between The Packaging Forum and The Auckland Litter Prevention Steering Group has received $1.72 million funding from The Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund.

The funding is allocated to a national advertising and consumer awareness campaign “Let’s put litter in its place – it’s just how we do things around here” and investment in infrastructure as well as the Litter Surveys to measure progress.