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Frequently Asked Questions

About the campaign

Why do we need a litter prevention campaign?

The NSW community consistently identifies littering as an area of environmental concern. Litter damages our natural environments, harms wildlife and sea creatures, can injure people, and makes our spaces less safe and healthy.

Litter education and awareness campaigns are an essential element of successful litter prevention. The ‘Don’t be a Tosser!’ campaign is an effective strategy to change behaviour. Moreover, the state-wide campaign is used by local councils, communities as well as other Government agencies for a consistent, and unified message on litter prevention.

Why run another litter campaign – don’t people already know not to litter?

Previous litter prevention campaigns have been successful in educating the community that littering is wrong, and research now shows that most people know that littering is wrong, however, people continue to litter.

Research has also shown that people are more likely to litter if they think they aren’t being watched, hence the call-out ‘Don’t be a Tosser!' The campaign reinforces the right behaviour, which is required until the social norm to not litter is established.

Is the campaign effective in preventing litter?

Yes, the EPA’s anti-litter campaigns have achieved excellent results, raising awareness of the litter problem to an extremely high degree.

Education is a key component of behaviour change and part of an integrated approach to litter prevention aimed at raising awareness and educating the NSW community to change their behaviour. The campaign works in combination with clean-ups, enforcement and improved infrastructure such as new butt bins and rubbish bins. Since the latest campaign began in 2013-14, we have seen litter in NSW reduce by over 40%.

Who does the campaign target?

The campaign targets people 18+ as research has shown that anyone can be a litterer and that there is no ‘typical’ litterer. The creative features the top littered items and includes a variety of genders, ethnicities, and ages to reach a broad audience.

How was the campaign developed?

The ‘Hey Tosser!’ campaign began in 2014 and has since evolved to become the 'Don't be a Tosser!' campaign as research showed that the 'Tosser!' concept needed to be reinvigorated to further develop the conversation with the community.

The campaign has been developed by extensive research. This includes social research to understand community attitudes, awareness, and behaviours around littering and an analysis of the required motivations to change behaviour. The campaign uses the latest litter data to ensure it targets the most frequently littered items across NSW.

The campaign is evaluated each year to ensure it remains effective, and the results from the evaluation are used to develop and improve each subsequent campaign.

What is the campaign concept?

The campaign is based on research that showed we needed to continue and evolve the conversation with the community about litter. The Don’t be a Tosser! campaign builds on the ‘Hey Tosser!’ message and evolves the conversation into an internal dialogue.

The aim is to make the audience recognise themselves and change their behaviour. 

Key components of the campaign:

  • The focus is no longer on the witness to drive behaviour change but is designed to place responsibility for littering on the environment and to encourage people to think about their actions.
  • The creative is playful and eye catching, with the reintroduction of the ‘Don’t be a Tosser!’ messaging.
  • The message gives people a choice to NOT be a ‘Tosser!’ – with the tag ‘Don’t be a Tosser!’ reinforcing positive behaviour.
  • Excuses are used ironically, stating the silly excuses we use to litter.
  • The tagline ‘If it’s not in the bin, it’s on you’ is a friendlier way of saying ‘put it in the bin’.

What does the campaign look like?

The creative materials have been designed to convey the single-minded proposition to 'Put your rubbish in the bin'. 

The creative is bright, bold and energetic, incorporating both irony and humour. Visual devices are used to reflect an internal dialogue that littering is not nice or comfortable, and you can easily solve that feeling by putting your rubbish in the bin.

Don't be a Tosser campaign characters with litter excuses.

Why has the NSW Government used the word ‘Tosser’?

The message was researched through urban and regional focus groups in 2012, where the ‘Tosser’ concept was the most effective litter message tested. People considered it a clever play on words and thought it summed up how people feel about litterers.

Further research has identified 94% approve of the ‘Tosser!’ message (Mediabrands post campaign research July 2021).
The ‘Tosser!’ concept is well-liked and there is a strong association between a ‘tosser’ and littering.

Why were these characters chosen for use in the campaign?

Research shows that there is no ‘typical’ litterer. Therefore, a range of characters representative of the population across NSW is featured in the campaign. The campaign targets everyone because anyone can be a litterer.

Why were the ‘excuses’ chosen for the campaign?

For our main campaign, the most commonly used excuses for littering were taken from pre and post-campaign research, since 2012. These excuses were tested in focus groups during campaign development. The excuses used in the campaign were the most effective. They provided the best balance between making participants feel guilty for their actions (littering), while also making them reflect that their excuse is unreasonable. The aim is to make people realise that there is no excuse for littering, and realise the answer is simple – to put it in the bin.

Is there a campaign for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) and non-English speaking communities?

Yes, the EPA has developed specific campaign materials for CALD audiences to support the ‘Don’t be a Tosser! If it’s not in the bin, it’s on you’ campaign.

However, the CALD messaging is more direct and simple, encouraging people to 'Put your rubbish in the bin. Your rubbish is your responsibility' rather than using the excuses and the phrase 'Don't be a Tosser! If it's not in the bin, it's on you' as this does not translate clearly. 

The creative is available in the top four languages (other than English) spoken in New South Wales – Arabic, Vietnamese Mandarin and Simplified Chinese.

Campaign materials have also been developed for Aboriginal communities by Aboriginal communities. 

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse ad campaign for Don't be a Tosser!


General questions about littering

I see people littering all the time. What can I do?

If you see somebody littering from their vehicle and report them using Report to EPA, they can be fined from $250.

If littering is a problem in your area like a local park, footpaths or near shops, here are some things you can do:

  • Tell your council: Local council rangers and Police can patrol and issue on-the-spot fines to people littering in public places.
  • Take part in a local litter project: Community litter projects are a great way to clean your neighbourhood. Grants are available to councils and community groups to run litter prevention projects.
  • Learn how to run a litter project: The Litter prevention kit is a great resource to help to plan and take local litter action.

Why aren't there more bins?

Research shows that littering can happen even within a few metres from a bin. So sadly, more bins aren't always the answer.

We all need to be responsible for our own rubbish until we find a bin. There's no excuse for 'tossing' rubbish.

Is biodegradable littering okay?

Biodegradable litter is still litter. It can harm our environment and makes it unclean. There is only one place for any rubbish, and that is in the bin.

Broader Litter Program & other NSW Government initiatives

What other programs and actions are the government delivering to prevent litter?

The Don't be a Tosser! campaign is part of the broader NSW Litter Prevention Strategy which outlines a range of initiatives to reduce litter.  
These include:


  • Report to EPA littering from vehicle program - now with over 60,000 registered litter reporters.
  • A grants program, which has provided over $12 million in grants to councils and communities since 2013 for new infrastructure, clean-up hotspot sites, educating the community and undertake enforcement.
  • The NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, targets drink containers, one of the largest sources of plastic litter. Return and Earn has collected over 6 billion containers since it began in 2017.
  • Managing the NSW Litter Data Framework to monitor litter in NSW, including a range of research into the cost and impacts of litter.

The NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041 (PDF) and the NSW Plastic Action Plan outline the actions we will take over the next six years, the first phase of the strategy, to deliver on our objectives to transition to a circular economy over the next 20 years. These actions are backed by $356 million in funding to help deliver priority programs and policy reforms.

The strategy includes new targets for NSW to: Reduce plastic litter by 30% by 2025, and all litter by 60% by 2030 and The NSW Plastics Action Plan (PDF 2.1Mb ), forming a key part of the Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041, outlines a comprehensive suite of actions to address plastic at all points of the plastics lifecycle, from production and consumption to disposal and recycling.

Why is litter a Government priority as opposed to promoting zero waste and source reduction initiatives?

The NSW Government supports a broad range of waste reduction and source control initiatives through a range of strategies, programs, and policies. These actions are closely integrated to deliver effective, evidence-based interactions to make NSW a clean and healthy place to live.
The NSW Plastic Action Plan includes a phase-out on plastics like single-use lightweight bags, cotton buds, straws, and stirrers.

How is the NSW EPA working with local councils/community groups to prevent litter?

The EPA supports local councils and community groups to deliver litter prevention programs through the NSW Litter Prevention Grants Program. For more information on the individual litter prevention programs, see below links.

Cigarette Butt Grants
Community Litter Grants
Council Litter Grants

What is the NSW Government doing about plastics?

Forming a key part of the NSW Government's NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041, the NSW Plastics Action Plan (PDF 2.1Mb) outlines a comprehensive suite of actions to address plastic at all points of the plastics lifecycle, from production and consumption to disposal and recycling.

What is the NSW Government doing about cigarette butt litter?

Cigarette butts are consistently the most littered item in NSW. It's estimated that 1.32 billion cigarette butts are littered each year in NSW.80

The NSW Government has developed Cigarette Butt Litter Prevention Program to reduce cigarette butt littering behaviour. The Program includes guidelines and resources for stakeholders to tackle local cigarette butt litter hotspots, a new grants program. To support this program, a range of signage including bin stickers, directional signage, and informative posters are now available at the EPA Litter Library

NSW Environment Protection Authority logo

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