LITTERBUGS are senselessly chucking out large amounts of rubbish along a road in one of the Bega Valley’s most beautiful national parks.
A recent report by the Bournda Environmental Education Centre (EEC) surveyed the amount of litter at seven sites along Sapphire Coast Drive through the Bournda National Park.
“The seven sites we looked at were cleaner on average than they had been last year,” Bournda EEC principal Doug Reckord said.
“We still think they could be much cleaner, but at least we can say they weren’t worse than last year.
“I think it is an ongoing effort and everyone needs to get on board with the idea that we shouldn’t tolerate lots of litter on our roads.”
He said while there were an increased number of items of litter along Sapphire Coast Drive, they were of small size and therefore the area looked cleaner.
Surveyors covered seven sites from Moncks Creek to Sandy Beach Creek in work that has been performed every year since 2011.
They walked 30-metre sections and Mr Reckord said it was amazing to see the amount of litter they collected just from those small sections.
The survey used three measures - number, weight and volume of litter - as only the number of litter items can be misleading.
For example, one area may have many cigarette butts while another has many drink bottles, and there is a big difference in size.
Hotspots for litter along the drive were where there was space for a car to pull over, and Mr Reckord said the main items found were fast food beverage and packaging materials, such as coffee cups, lids, soft drink bottles, aluminium cans and chip packets.
The report stated the lower amount of McDonald’s fast food waste along Sapphire Coast Drive, which was 8.2 per cent compared to last year’s 16.9 per cent, indicated the new McDonald’s Bega store had no effect on litter along that road.
The survey is usually performed before Christmas, but this year was put back a couple of weeks into the busier tourist season, and Mr Reckord said it was pleasing to see less rubbish than last year, especially during a time when he would have expected more due to the higher amounts of traffic.
Other sites surveyed by the Bournda EEC in 2014 were Tathra Rd from Bega to Kalaru, Merimbula Drive from Merimbula to the Princes Hwy, and the Princes Hwy from the Merimbula turnoff to Angledale.
Mr Reckord said the cleanest one was Sapphire Coast Drive and the most littered the Princes Hwy from Merimbula to Bega.
Other sites in the shire will be surveyed later this year.
FOR the first time in NSW, fines can be issued from reports by members of the public of litter thrown from motor vehicles.
NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes announced that from March 2015 anyone reported to the litter hotline will face fines of up to $200 for individuals, $500 for lit cigarettes during fire bans, and $900 for a corporation.
Prior to these changes to the law, anyone could report littering from a vehicle to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), but all that resulted was a letter of warning.
A similar reporting system is in place in Victoria, where it has been very effective.
Every year in Victoria over 20,000 people are reported for littering, 64 per cent of which result in fines, whereas in NSW last year only 2862 motorists were fined for tossing rubbish from vehicles after being recorded by government officials.
Reports can be submitted on the NSW EPA website, or by downloading a new app that will allow motorists to report littering on the go – although the EPA cautions everyone to be responsible in using mobile phones while driving.
“I don’t know if it will lead to prosecutions, but it is more about saying this is unacceptable behaviour so don’t do it,” Bournda Environmental Education Centre principal Doug Reckord said.
He said even just a phone call to let someone know their littering is wrong could help people realise they are making a mistake.
The ability to report starts on February 1, with fines issued from March 1.
To download the reporting app, search for “Report to NSW EPA” in the iTunes App Store or Google Play or visit www.epa.nsw.gov.au/pollution/reporttoepa.htm for more information.