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Australia’s Capital Territory needs to ACT to clean up its Parks

Media Release - 22 February 2011

The votes have been tallied and the results are in: the Australian Capital Territory has the dirtiest parks in Australia.

The ACT is renowned for its stunning parks and bushland. However, with an average of 1086 items of rubbish removed from each park and 58% of this rubbish being cigarette butts, it’s clear that the heart of the nation is copping a beating. 

The 2010 Rubbish Report has highlighted some alarming facts about the state of pollution in the nation’s capital. The proportion of cigarette butts removed rose 52% from 2009 and is significantly higher than in other states, making ACT the butt of the nation.

Ian Kiernan AO, Chairman and Founder of Clean Up Australia Day, spoke about the findings; “The ACT has some beautiful bushlands, parks and rivers. It is such a shame to see them fall victim to pollution – and with devastating bushfires so common across Australia, it is worrying to note just how much of the rubbish found were cigarette butts. This careless littering is not only a scourge on our environment and wildlife but also shows ignorance to safety.

”The people of the ACT can turn this around – and they can get started by taking part in Clean Up Australia Day, on Sunday 6 March.”

Last year an estimated 9376 volunteers removed 275 tonnes of rubbish from 125 registered Clean Up sites across the ACT. The hard work put in by the volunteers on the day was extremely impressive and exhibited the pride that ACT residents have in the cleanliness of their local environment.

While cigarette butts topped the list of rubbish items in 2010, glass, which was the most common item picked up in 2009 dropped out of the top items that were picked up. Ian Kiernan applauds ACT residents; “While there are still some lessons to be learnt with littering, the resident and visitors to the ACT are disposing of glass items, which can be hazardous to the community.

“The progress the ACT is making towards banning single use plastic bags is another huge step in the right direction to help our nation’s capital to clean up.”

Ian Kiernan comments about last year’s efforts; “Our 2010 Rubbish Report highlights the amazing achievement of all our Clean Up Australia Day volunteers. They do a fantastic job of cleaning up their own local areas. We want every person in the ACT to register for the clean up effort and show the rest of the nation how the capital can lead by example.” 

“With rubbish increasing its visibility by 6% in 2010, we can’t just sit around – we need to take action for our environment. We are a resilient nation and through community effort we can preserve our landscapes and oceans. It is vital that volunteers continue their great effort and register to continue to clean up.”


  1. Cigarette butts
  2. PET drink containers
  3. Plastic chips & confectionary bags
  4. Bottle Caps
  5. Foil/confectionary wrappers


  1. Parks
  2. River/creek
  3. Bushland

Other ACT results:
Fact 1 – The ACT generates roughly 784,000 tonnes of waste, 25% of which ends up in landfill. The ACT diverts more waste from landfill than any other state or territory .
Fact 2 – After a drop from 50% in 2008 to 6% in 2009, cigarette butts again return as the most removed rubbish item in the ACT at 58% of rubbish; a much higher proportion compared to other states. 
Fact 3 – In October 2010 the ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell declared that the Territory would ban single use disposable plastic bags from November 1 2011 .
Fact 4 – Parks were the most polluted sites surveyed in the ACT. 
Fact 5 – In 2009 the most commonly removed item was glass pieces at 17%, however this has now dropped out of the top five.
Fact 6 – Parks in the ACT are the most polluted in Australia, with an average of 1086 items removed per site.  ACT roadways have now dropped out of the top three, after being ranked at number two in 2009.

Figure taken from the EPHC National Waste Report 2010.
2 Fact taken from ACT Department of Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Water website.

National findings from Clean Up Australia 2010 Rubbish Report:

  • Plastics represent 40% of all rubbish found including pet drink bottles, bottle caps and lids plus chips/confectionery bags
  • There was a 6% increase in number of rubbish items found per surveyed site, equating to 124 items per square kilometres.
  • Outdoor transport sites had the highest density of rubbish of all sites surveyed, with 326 items per square kilometre. They had close to twice the waste density of shops/malls and 46 times more waste than public bushland
  • Cigarette butts were the most commonly found item for the 15th year in a row – 1 in 5 waste items removed in 2010 was a cigarette butt
  • Beach and coastal areas and rivers/creeks showed the significant waste density at 164 and 108 items per square kilometre respectively

Australia’s largest community participation event. Get a group together and register your chosen Clean Up Site online.

Clean Up Australia Day – Sunday 6 March
Business Clean Up Day – Tuesday 1 March
Schools Clean Up Day – Friday 4 March

Your local park, waterway, bus area, beach or street.

WHO: Everyone is welcome – friends, family, kids, community groups, work colleagues or anyone else. HOW: Register for Clean Up Australia Day now at www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au or call 1800 CUA DAY for more information.


For any further media information or an interview, please contact:   
Monique Jones, Shadiyah Lim or Sharon Elliott Taurus Marketing                                                             
Phone: +61 2 9415 4528 or +61 413 689 343                                                         
Email: monique@taurusmarketing.com.au / shadiyah@taurusmarketing.com.au / sharon.elliott@taurusmarketing.com.au