Litterbugs create spike in country highway rubbish

ILLEGAL dumping is leaving huge volumes of rubbish on the sides of NSW country highways.

A Keep Australia Beautiful survey found there was a spike in roadside rubbish on NSW rural roads in 2014 with 35.7 items being found every 1000sq m of rural highway roadsides compared to 24.2 per 1000sq m in 2013.

While the number of items found on NSW rural roadsides was the fourth highest in Australia, behind Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, the volume of that rubbish was the second highest in the nation.

Keep Australia Beautiful chief Peter McLean said the high volume compared with number of items showed how many large items were being illegally dumped on NSW roads.

Mr McLean said Victoria had the cleanest country roads but NSW had struggled to maintain a message discouraging people from littering on roads.

"In Victoria for 15 years now there has been a consistent education and awareness campaign with the backing of State Government, local government and businesses," Mr McLean said.

"Other states, particularly NSW and Queensland, have not seen a lot of consistency.

"It will be brought in and then there will be an election and it won't be a priority any more."

He hoped NSW would follow Victoria's, and more recently Queensland's, lead with a dob in a litterer campaign.

Australians throw 30.5 items of litter out of the car for every 1000sq m of rural highway roadside.

Plastics, cigarette butts, paper and glass are the most common items found on the side of the road.

"People probably adopt an out of sight out of mind view to rural highways, compared to more high profile sites like beaches," Mr McLean said.

"But unless people make a deliberate effort, we can expect the amount of litter across the country to reach an all-time peak during the holiday period.

"The fact is that littering is public vandalism no matter where or how much is dropped. It doesn't land on the roadside by magic. It has to be deliberately and wilfully thrown from a vehicle."