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Ian Kiernan AO, reveals statistics of the 2010 Rubbish Report

Media Release - Perth, 15 February 2011  

Clean Up Australia’s 2010 Rubbish Report has revealed the beautiful beaches and coasts of Western Australia are the most polluted in the country, with an average of 1093 rubbish items found per site.

While Western Australia recorded the lowest amount of plastic in the country, an above average amount of both metal and glass were removed by volunteers in WA last year. 18% of the waste found in WA was metal, well above the national average of 12%. The amount of glass found in WA was twice the national average at 10%. These materials are a serious danger to people, wildlife and the environment.  

Clean Up Australia Founder and Chairman, Ian Kiernan AO comments, “the people of Western Australia are being left with a real mess. You have one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, attracting local, national and international tourists. It is unacceptable that your beaches and coastal areas are considered to be giant ashtrays and rubbish bins. The huge amount of waste on coastlines finds its way into the Indian Ocean ruining the famous seascapes with horrific impact on marine life.

This call to action comes as Clean Up Australia announced the results of 2010 Clean Up volunteer efforts published within their annual Rubbish Report.

Last year in Western Australia, an estimated 42,462 volunteers removed approximately 1,179 tonnes of rubbish from 536 sites. Nationally, an estimated 588,000 volunteers removed 15,560 tonnes from 7,073 sites, making Clean Up Australia Day the largest community participation event in Australia.

The state which generates over 5 million tonnes of waste every year also sends 77% of their waste to landfill which is higher than any other state in Australia, making WA a serious rubbish offender.

“The large amount of rubbish accumulated by WA that ends up in landfill highlights the need for immediate and serious action.  It’s time for WA to stop sweeping your rubbish problems under the rug and take responsibility to recycle and dispose of rubbish more responsibly.”

“The State has already taken great steps to introduce tough illegal dumping laws and the same consideration needs to be given to littering. We also need to introduce measures to improve and encourage recycling. This will mean less rubbish heading to landfill or ending up in our environment.”
Ian Kiernan continues; “Our 2010 Rubbish Report highlights the amazing achievement of Clean Up Australia Day volunteers. In 2011 we want every person in Western Australia to do your bit to clean up your golden state. With rubbish increasing its visibility by 6% in 2010, we can’t just sit around – we need to take action for our local environments. Through community effort we can preserve our landscapes and oceans, so it is vital that volunteers register on Sunday 6 March. ”

Clean Up Australia Day began when founder Ian Kiernan was shocked by the amount of waste he encountered while sailing the world’s oceans. Preventing waste from entering waterways is still a key goal of Clean Up Australia Day, and Clean Up urges West Australian residents to do their bit by registering for Clean Up Australia Day 2011.

TOP 5 RUBBISH ITEMS IN WA                              

  1. Cigarette butts
  2. Glass pieces
  3. Alcoholic beverage cans
  4. Alcoholic beverage bottles
  5. Bottle caps and lids


  1. Miscellaneous (90% cigarette butts)
  2. Glass
  3. Metal/aluminium
  4. Plastic
  5. Paper


  1. Beach/coastal
  2. School grounds
  3. Public bushland
  4. Parks
  5. River/creeks

Other WA results:
Fact 1 – WA generates over five million tonnes of waste a year, 77% of which is sent to landfill. WA has the highest proportion of waste sent to landfill in Australia .  

Fact 2 – WA had the lowest proportion of plastic waste found compared to the other states and territories, a value well below average .

Fact 3 – An above average amount of both metal and glass were found in WA - 18% of the waste found in WA was metal compared to a national average of 12%. The amount of glass found in WA was twice the national average of 10%.

Fact 4 – Beach and coastal areas were the most polluted sites surveyed in WA with 1093 on average items of rubbish being found at each site.  This makes the beaches in WA the most polluted in Australia with the highest recorded amount of items at each site.

Fact 5 – The most commonly found rubbish item in WA was cigarette butts, accounting for 32% of rubbish collected.  This was a slight increase from 2009 when 30% of rubbish was cigarette butts.

Fact 6 – Plastic has now dropped to fourth place with 17% of the rubbish collected after previously being the most commonly found item in WA, with 34% of the total rubbish collected in 2009 and 24% in 2008.  
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.

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 or Shadiyah Lim Taurus Marketing                                                              
Phone: +61 2 9415 4528 or +61 413 689 343                                                          
Email: monique@taurusmarketing.com.au / shadiyah@taurusmarketing.com.au