Bass Coast,

No Butts - Bin It Or Get Busted

Fines totalling over $3,500 were issued to offenders dropping cigarette butts during a recent litter enforcement blitz by Bass Coast Shire Council.

Four people were fined almost $1,500 in San Remo within just one hour, while three drivers were fined $577 each for throwing cigarette butts from parked or moving vehicles in Wonthaggi.

A Wonthaggi man was also fined $289 for throwing a cigarette butt on to the footpath in front of Cowes Primary School students while they were picking up rubbish for Clean Up Australia Day.

Most of the littering offences occurred within 10 metres of public place bins, usually when the people were getting in or out of cars.

Gippsland Regional Waste Management Group board member, Cr Bradley Drew, said five of the nine people fined were visiting the area to enjoy eco-tourism attractions, including Phillip Island beaches and the pelicans of San Remo.

“After speaking with each offender, Council’s enforcement officers found the smokers didn’t seem to be making any connection between the negative impacts of their behaviour on the environment or wildlife they had just been enjoying,” Cr Drew said.

Cr Drew said not one of the offenders looked for bins to dispose their butts, even though in most cases, bins were very close by.

“The behaviour of taking a ‘last drag’ on the cigarette, throwing the butt on the ground and driving off in a car seemed to be the most common behaviour,” Cr Drew said.

Cr Drew said smokers need to take responsibility for their butts.

“It is not desirable to have bins installed every few metres in all public places.

“Even when there is not a bin around, like down on the beach, smokers should put their butts in the back of their cigarette pack until they can get to a bin, or use a personal ashtray.”

Removing litter from parks and roadsides costs ratepayers around $100,000 each year, and Cr Drew said the statistics from this year’s Clean Up Australia Day were disappointing.

“Around 5,200 cigarette butts were removed from grassed areas, garden beds, gutters and footpaths along Thompson Avenue and the Cowes foreshore,” Cr Drew said.

Bass Coast residents and visitors are being asked to take a stand against littering, especially burning cigarette butts, by reporting offenders to Council or to EPA Victoria.

Any member of the public who witnesses littering is encouraged to make a report to EPA Victoria’s Pollution Report Line on 1300 EPA VIC (372 842), use the free ‘Litter Reporter’ app for smartphones or call Council on 1300BCOAST (226 278).