Clean Up Australia’s FY23 Litter Report

Clean Up Australia’s annual Litter Report provides an analysis of trends in the types and spread of litter throughout Australia. The FY23 Litter Report has just been release… and it shows we’ve still got a major problem with plastic pollution.

Since 1991 the Rubbish Report has provided Australians a snapshot of the rubbish collected by the Clean Up Australia volunteer network – which grew to over 1 million volunteers in FY23.

By having access to this information, it gives Australians an opportunity to understand the national landscape of waste, to rethink our relationship with plastics and packaging, and help us understand how we can all play a part in the shift towards a circular economy.

This report reinforces our need to move away from the traditional ‘take-make-waste’ model of consumption and move towards a circular economy where resources are kept in circulation for as long as possible.

Plastics continue to dominate

Across Australia, plastics continue to dominate as the main material type most reported at surveyed Clean Up sites, representing 81.1% of all counter litter this financial year. An increase of 4.2% from the previous year.

FY23 is the 29th year that plastic has dominated the ‘Major Types of Litter.’

Beverage container counts this financial year were at 14.5% of all counted litter. This is a decrease from 2022 levels of 17.3% and may be attributed to increased Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) collector efforts.

The National Litter Report Snapshot

Over 1 million people joined Clean Up Australia across 17,139 sites the Litter Report FY23 is a snapshot of litter removed by CUA volunteers during Clean Up Australia Day and Every Day Clean Ups across a portion of these sites – across Australia, the Report is based on the count of 468,482 items from 1,356 surveyed locations.

Clean Up Australia FY23 National Litter Report Fact Sheet Snapshot

Single-use plastic beverage bottles and aluminium beverage cans ranked 3rd and 4th respectively in the top 10 individual litter items surveyed, and beverage containers as a grouped category came in 3rd, accounting for a whopping 14.5% of all litter surveyed nationally.

The Victorian Litter Report Snapshot

This snapshot into litter in Victoria is based on the count of 112,576 items from 305 surveyed locations.

Clean Up Australia FY23 Victorian Litter Report Fact Sheet Snapshot

In Victoria, the picture of litter is quite similar to that of the nation. Plastics, including soft plastics, hard plastics and all other types, made up over 80% of the litter types reported.

Beverage containers came in at 3rd with a whopping 15.9% of total litter surveyed.

Aluminium Beverage Cans and Plastic Beverage Bottles (single-use) came in tied at 3rd and 4th of individual litter items surveyed, at 6.4% each.

What does this mean for the Victorian Container Deposit Scheme?

Container deposit schemes are underpinned by extended producer responsibility, whereby the producer of a waste item is required to fund efficient and effective material recovery and recycling processes.

As global movements turn consumers away from single-use items, container deposit schemes provide a sustainable government-legislated mechanism for recycling single-use beverage containers and contributing to a circular economy.

Nationally, the CUA Litter Report FY23 showed that beverage container counts fell from 2022 levels of 17.3% of all counted national litter, to 14.5%. This decrease may be attributed to increased collection efforts around the country.

As we shift how we see empty drink containers away from that of waste and towards that of a material resource with value, we begin to rethink our relationship with these containers and waste as a whole.

As CDS Vic awareness and participation grows, we can hope to see a further decrease in the number of beverage containers and cans found in our litter stream, and instead see them returned through the scheme to become highly valuable, source separated materials that can continue to be reused, recycled and remanufactured again and again.

Thank you to everyone who helps keep Australia clean, and to the Clean Up Australia Team for their ongoing dedication in engaging and empowering Australians to fight litter.

Find out more about this year’s Clean Up Australia Day on Sunday March 3rd here.

Download the Clean Up Australia FY23 Litter Report here.