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NSW’s efforts to reduce litter

What is the NSW Government doing to reduce litter?


The NSW Government has a range of strategies, programs and policies to reduce litter. These actions are closely integrated to deliver effective, evidence-based interactions to make NSW a clean and healthy place to live.

Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041

The NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041 (PDF 2.1Mb) (WASM) outlines the actions we will take in the first phase of the strategy towards transitioning to a circular economy over the next 20 years. These actions are backed by $356 million to help deliver priority programs and policy reforms.

This Strategy includes a new target for NSW to:

•    reduce all litter by 60% by 2030
•    reduce plastics litter by 30% by 2025.

NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy (PDF 2.1Mb)

NSW Plastic Action Plan

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

NSW Plastics Action Plan (PDF 2.1Mb)

NSW Litter Prevention Strategy

This Strategy shows how we will meet litter reduction targets. Having achieved the previous target to reduce litter in NSW by 40% by 2020, the Strategy will focus on delivering the new targets which are set out in the Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy. To do this, we need to integrate our approaches to litter prevention across 5 areas (Figure 1): 

•    approach 1: rewarding responsible behaviour 
•    approach 2: education and awareness 
•    approach 3: infrastructure and clean-up 
•    approach 4: regulation and enforcement 
•    approach 5: evaluation and monitoring.

To see how these approaches work together to prevent litter, view The Litter Journey: A closer look.

NSW Environment Protection Authority logo

NSW Litter Prevention Strategy

Return and Earn

This NSW Government initiative rewards responsible behaviour by encouraging the reduction of beverage container litter and increasing recycling. It influences littering behaviour in 2 ways:

1.    by encouraging anyone who consumes a drink to hold on to the empty container and return it for a 10 cent refund
2.    by providing an incentive for other people to pick up littered containers and receive the refund.


Find out where you can return eligible containers.

Return and earn logo

Find out where you can return eligible containers.

Marine Estate Management Strategy

This Strategy 2018–2028 affirms the NSW Government’s commitment to maintaining and improving holistic management of the marine estate as one continuous system. It outlines how we will manage the most important threats to environmental assets. It recognises how the community benefits – socially, culturally and economically – from the marine estate.

The strategy’s priorities are to improve water quality and reduce litter. Key actions are outlined, such as a catchment-based approach to implement initiatives to:
•    address the cumulative threats to major coastal waterways, and 
•    ensure a coordinated approach to waterway health that benefits the NSW community.

Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018–2028 (PDF 12.3Mb)

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