Western Australians are being urged to report litterbugs – potential firebugs – who flick cigarette butts out of vehicle windows.
In a bid to stop this anti-social behaviour, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson – himself a Keep Australia Beautiful (KAB) litter reporter – is keen to see others sign up and watch out for people who throw litter from cars, trailers or boats.
According to the latest National Litter Index Report, cigarette butts continue to be the most littered item in WA – making up 29 per cent of the litter stream.
Discarded cigarette butts are responsible for starting hundreds of landscaping and mulch fires across the State every year. In the last four years, 2,030 fires in roadside mulch were caused by cigarettes.
Under the Litter Act 1979, anyone incorrectly disposing of a cigarette butt can be fined $200. Flicking cigarettes from a vehicle and stubbing out and leaving butts in public areas such as footpaths, roads and gutters can all incur a fine.
If it can be proved that the butt was still lit when dropped, it can lead to a $500 fine.
As well as a fire risk, cigarette butts are made from non-biodegradable plastic which can take up to 15 years to break down. Butts can get washed into stormwater drains and waterways where they leach toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead and zinc.
Cigarette butts are commonly mistaken for food by marine life and have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, sea turtles and other marine creatures.
Keep Australia Beautiful has 12,847 registered litter reporters in WA and issued 2,188 litter infringement notices this calendar year.
Download the smartphone Litter Report App to easily and safely report littering from vehicles.