LLMT an important step for Bass Coast Shire Council

Bass Coast Shire Council’s Litter Prevention and Waste Education Officer, Leanne Edwards, is effectively and successfully using the Victorian Litter Action Alliance’s (VLAA) Local Litter Measurement Toolkit (LLMT) to capture, manage and analyse litter data to tackle litter and illegally dumped waste.   

Organisation Snapshot

Bass Coast Shire Council is located in the Gippsland region of Victoria, approximately 130 kilometres south east of the Melbourne CBD. Taking in the towns of San Remo, Inverloch, Wonthaggi, as well as Phillip Island, it has an ever-expanding residential population, and is one of the fastest growing areas in regional Victoria.

The combination of coastal and hinterland environments sees a large fluctuation in the Shire’s population over the peak summer holiday season, December to January. The surge in tourism during this period sees the population rise by nearly 200%, from 30,000 to 50,000 with an influx of holiday home families, visitor groups and other travelers to Phillip Island.  

Background

Bass Coast Shire Council receives an average 20 reports of illegal dumping each month, and during the peak summer tourism period this increases to 40-50. The municipality also experiences increased littering in key tourist areas and high use public places, such as foreshores, during this period.

Removal and disposal costs vary, with minimum costs ranging from $120-$175 per incident once labour and equipment costs are factored in, with annual litter removal costing ratepayers approximately $40,000. The total cost of removing litter from public places, including routine parks maintenance, is projected to be around $100,000 annually.

Since 2013, Leanne, (Figure 1), has been collecting litter and illegal dumping data using a variety of tools from the LLMT. This data has allowed planning to occur to target efforts to reduce the severity of this issue and manage it more effectively.

The project

Bass Coast Shire Council aims to reduce the incidence of littering and illegal dumping by promoting local waste disposal services and encouraging responsible disposal behaviour. To do so, Leanne incorporates VLAA’s best practice litter prevention framework of education, infrastructure and enforcement when designing and recommending interventions.

The LLMT Litter Count Form is used to monitor litter hotspots, with a combination of waste education, using both local media and face-to-face communication, public place recycling (PPR) and on-the-spot fining of offenders also implemented. A decrease in the litter accumulation rate over time is occurring with this combination of actions. Leanne’s use of the LLMT’s Litter Logbook Form also allows for the collection of long-term data to monitor patterns at hotspots.  

Leanne is supporting Parks Victoria’s Wonthaggi Office to trial the LLMT Litter Logbook Form to help them better understand the cost impacts of illegal dumping and opportunities for improved interventions to reduce litter in the many state-managed parks and foreshore reserve areas within Bass Coast Shire. 

Much of the coastline in Bass Coast Shire is managed by external groups. The San Remo Foreshore Community of Management has been specifically proactive in terms of improving the PPR bin system along the beautiful San Remo foreshore, especially the daily pelican feeding area, requesting multilingual signage to accommodate visitor needs. She has also been consulting with community groups and using the LLMT Litter Observation Form to assess the placement and effectiveness of PPR, aiding in community satisfaction of waste management efforts.

Outcomes

The incorporation of the LLMT into Bass Coast Shire Council’s litter prevention and management work has allowed Leanne to gather data for evidence-based decision making. Mapping of areas where high levels of illegal dumping occurs has resulted in the installation of surveillance cameras in specific locations to identify litterers for prosecution. Media releases detailing recently issued littering penalty notices act as a deterrent for future litterers as well as providing publicity to the issue and encouraging residents to report litterers.  

It also allows Leanne to assess areas that would benefit from an increased presence of authorised litter enforcement officers, such as Local Laws officers, to patrol litter hotspots and educate the public.

Her research has also found that at least 50% of general waste in public street litter bins is recyclable, indicating that the design of the recycling bin could be altered to better facilitate use of PPR bins.

 

“There’s clearly a gap in the thought process of litterers between the action of littering and the resulting environmental impact. We use an appropriate mix of education, infrastructure and enforcement to bridge that gap.”

Leanne Edwards, Bass Coast Shire Council

Challenges

Over the peak summer period Bass Coast Shire Council receives a large increase in the number of reported incidences of illegal dumping. This can challenge the litter enforcement and outdoor staff’s ability to record and enter data at all hotspots due to time constraints. The LLMT does however provide various tools for data collection depending on an officer’s available time.

The increase in litter can alter litter count consistency by inhibiting an officer’s ability to conduct litter counts in hotspots at regular times, impacting in the ability for data to accurately depict trends. This can then affect consistent gathering of data and associated trends.

Engaging residents and tourists in a subject that isn’t deemed “appealing” to discuss also proves challenging. The increased number of tourists means that often those who Leanne has educated don’t live locally to put into practice the correct litter disposal methods.

Next steps

Leanne now wants to focus on the consistency of data collection to ensure optimum accuracy with all results. This will involve improving the efficiency of litter counts to decrease the time taken to use the LLMT forms. She also hopes to work closely with outdoor maintenance teams to assist further in data collection.

She also plans to follow up on the request for multi-lingual signage, specifically in high-tourism areas as well as redesigning the PPR bin openings to increase recycling and correct disposal behaviour.

Further information

For more information contact 
Leanne Edwards on 03 5671 2132 
email l.edwards@basscoast.vic.gov.au 
or visit www.basscoast.vic.gov.au

Victorian Litter Action Alliance, Sustainability Victoria
Level 28, Urban Workshop,
50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone (03) 8626 8700
www.litter.vic.gov.au   

© Published by Sustainability Victoria. 

The LLMT has been designed for local government and land managers to:

>       Increase access to best practice techniques, data and analysis to inform management of litter and illegal dumping.

>       More efficiently evaluate litter and illegal dumping programs and interventions at a local scale.

>       Conduct cost benefit analyses to improve local litter prevention projects.

>       Prepare business cases to bid for funding for initiatives to reduce litter and illegal dumping, maximise recycling, improve or introduce infrastructure and enforcement.