Page 2679 - Week 08 - Friday, 1 July 2005

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(1) ACT Government now increase the number of rubbish bins at locations where littering is likely to occur; if not, why not;

(2) In relation to the findings of the survey that cigarette butts made up more than 50 per cent of all litter and 23 per cent of discarded butts were because smokers couldn’t find an ashtray, why is the ACT Government not enforcing the Littering Act against smokers who discard their butts, given that these butts make up half of all the litter discarded in the ACT;

(3) Will the ACT Government be implementing some kind of publicity campaign to reinforce the dangers and illegality of such behaviour, or undertake some other stronger enforcement measure as incorrectly discarding cigarette butts is dangerous in terms of the fire risk as well as just simply littering; if not, why not;

(4) What will the ACT Government be doing overall to improve the littering problem in the Territory in light of the results of this survey.

Mr Hargreaves: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

1. In relation to litter removal in urban as well as national parks, it has long been ACT Government policy that people using neighbourhood parks and other public places are responsible for the collection and disposal of their own litter, including dog faeces. In most instances, this means that people would take their litter home for either composting or hygienic disposal in their wheeled bins. Litterbins are, however, provided at shopping centres, in high-use public district parks and other locations where the number of visitors involved exacerbates problems with litter. Canberra Urban Parks and Places will also consider providing bins for litter in other public places where specific problem sites become apparent.

2. The ACT Government can issue on the spot fines of $60 for unlit or extinguished cigarettes or $200 for discarding a lit cigarette under the new Litter Act, but we would prefer to work with smokers to make sure they see the sense in modifying their behaviour. During March the ACT Government launched the Butt Free City Education Campaign across the CBD, with the by-line please butt it, then bin it. This education campaign was an initiative of the Department of Urban Services in partnership with the Butt Littering Trust. Research by the Butt Littering Trust indicates that 58 per cent of smokers inappropriately dispose of butts in various outdoor settings, with many not even thinking it constitutes littering or believing it has serious environmental consequences. Enforcement of correct disposal of butts is to follow if the recent education program does not significantly improve the situation. A recent blitz on littering adjacent to charity bins has been successful and a blitz on commercial litter in laneways is underway.

3. The Butt Free City education campaign was instigated to encourage smokers to be more concerned about how they dispose of their butts so they do not need to be cleaned up. These ‘butt hot spots’ included City bus interchange, City Walk, Garema Place, Ainslie Avenue, Hobart Place, Moore Street (near the Health Building), Akuna Street and the taxi rank on Bunda Street. A team of people approached smokers in these areas to discuss the environmental impact of littered butts, provide information on disposal options and generally encourage correct disposal. Environmental information cards and personal ashtrays were handed out to smokers around the city’s ‘butt hot spots’ during March. The information cards listed the many impacts of littering cigarette butts and encouraged correct disposal. My department is also currently exploring a proposal of having cigarette disposal units supplied and maintained free in high use areas by a private company for the rights to advertise on them.

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