On 1 December 2010, the City of Port Phillip announced the new rule that smoking and glass containers were no longer allowed on its nine kilometres of urban beaches, which includes the popular St Kilda beach. This required a concerted public awareness campaign and a range of other measures to tell people about the new rule and why it was introduced.
The aim was to make local beaches safer and more pleasant places to be, and to reduce the operational demand on the council's beach cleaning services.
Despite daily beach cleaning by the council and laws about littering, beach litter continued to pose a problem, particularly in the summer months when litter volumes can rise astronomically.
Port Phillip council collects over 100 cubic metres of beach litter every week.
Collaboration and partnerships
No Cuts No Butts received wide support from local businesses and community groups, and importantly, from major foreshore sporting event organisers - a major attractor for visitors to the area.
The EcoCentre, based at the St Kilda Botanical Gardens, is a hive of community action and also supported the campaign.
The EcoCentre's coordinator Neil Blake doubles up as the Port Phillip Baykeeper. He instigated 'Baykeeper Butt Safaris', getting the community involved in measuring the extent of the butt litter problem. This community engagement has added to that of the core campaign.
Audience and key messages
The message was (and remains) twofold:
- Smoking and glass are not allowed on the beach.
- Respect the places we love and spend time in.
Clearly, beach users are the primary audience, though nearby residents and businesses need exposure as a matter of information, and to gain their support.
Like the Victoria's Coast 'Too Lovely to Litter' campaign, No Cuts No Butts speaks more about the place than the litter itself.
Communication and implementation
There's a broad mix of communications methods in play.
- Celebrity spokespeople - Port Phillip is home to many celebrities, many of who are happy to be involved in campaigns of this type, especially with a message of respecting local places.
- Outreach - Council beach rangers are out and about three days a week in the summer months, interacting with beach users, informing them of the local law, handing out branded Frisbees and conducting surveys.
- Web and media - The council's campaign web page is informative and takes visitors to other useful sites and information, especially about butt litter, beach cleaning and keeping safe in summer. Online video is put to good use, and media promotion is consistent over the campaign period.
Over 2011-2012, council's beach rangers gathered data from over 250 litter audits and 140 one-on-one surveys with beach users. The surveys were an opportunity to learn about attitudes to the smoking and glass ban, and how beach users felt about cleanliness and safety.
- 93% thought banning cigarettes and glass on the beach was a 'great idea'.
- 45% rated beach cleaning as 'great', an increase on the previous year (92% rated it as at least 'satisfactory').
The effectiveness of No Cuts No Butts over its two year life to date is quite clear.
A campaign evaluation published in April 2012 showed that the amount of butt and glass litter fell by 60% and 50% respectively. There has been an overall effect as well, with the average number of litter pieces per beach dropping dramatically from 28 to 12.5 in a year.
A strong media campaign, supported by a program of direct interaction with beach users seems to make this campaign effective.
With such good results, the council has committed to continuing in the 2012-2013 summer.
After that and with three years of data under the belt, trend data will begin to emerge giving the council quite a unique data set and collection of campaign experiences to build on.
No Cuts No Butts website