Litter is costing Dubbo Regional Council more than $200,000 every year, but the organisation is hoping a new education campaign will put an end to the problem.
Council has joined forces with Netwaste to target litter at the Victoria Park Skate Park and Elston Park. As part of the Netwaste Litter Reduction Implementation Plan, council will be installing Netwaste-funded signage and CCTV. In Elston Park bin sensors will also be installed.
Project manager Ben Pilon said litter was having a significant impact on council and the community.
“Last year the total cost incurred by council, only in recreational open space areas was a very conservative $200,000. Very conservative. That’s from pick up to disposal. Including parks, sporting facilities, reserves and sporting events,” Mr Pilon said.
“And that doesn’t include the environmental impact. You can’t put a dollar figure on that.”
It was money that could be spent in far better ways, Mr Pilon said. The litter was also costing council in time, he said.
“It’s estimated throughout all open space recreation areas – parks, sporting and recreational areas – that Dubbo Regional Council staff spend an estimated 45 hours per week which is an estimate of 234,000 man hours a year picking up litter and disposing of it. It’s pretty crazy,” Mr Pilon said.
Every Monday between four and six people spend the entire day picking up rubbish from more than 160 of council’s assets. There were also volunteers who put a lot of time and effort into picking up rubbish, Mr Pilon said, which would be unnecessary work if people correctly disposed of their rubbish.
Elston Park and the skate park have both been identified as littering hot spots. Victoria park cost council $32,000 in litter-related work, while it was about $20,000 at Elston Park.
The campaign will entail sensor bins which can either play music or say a message when activated, Mr Pilon said. They were designed to be a teaching aid and make people more likely to use them.
“The main purpose of them is is to create a more pleasant and interactive experience when putting the rubbish in the bin with the main aim of cultivating the mindset of people to change behaviours,” the project manager said.
Council will also be holding an event at the skate park on Tuesday from 3.30pm until 5pm. There’ll be activities, education and anyone who answers council’s questionnaire will go in the running to win a skateboard.
Mr Pilon said the goal of the campaign was to engage the community and change behaviour by encouraging people to think about the impact the litter has.