Litter & illegal dumping

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It costs Gold Coast ratepayers more than $7 million dollars each year for the City to clean up litter and illegal dumping. This waste can cause harm to wildlife and people, as well as pollute our streets, natural areas, waterways and beaches. Litter and illegal dumping are avoidable problems when everyone disposes of their waste responsibly. Here’s what you can do.

Actions to stop litter and illegal dumping

Everyone can help make litter and illegal dumping a thing of the past. Only rubbish people litter – don’t be that person.

Always put your rubbish in the appropriate bin or take it to one of the City’s Waste and Recycling Centres.

Other things you can do include:

  • Pick up any litter you see
  • Choose reusable over single-use disposable options
  • Carry a bag for litter in your car or backpack
  • Carry a pocket ashtray for cigarette butts or chewing gum waste
  • Properly secure your load on your trailer or ute
  • Join a local clean up group or volunteer for an event like Clean Up Australia Day
  • Report littering and illegal dumping incidents
  • Teach others to dispose of rubbish responsibly
  • Use businesses that dispose of waste sustainably, e.g. Tyre Stewardship Australia accredited tyre dealers

Disposing of large or bulky waste items

  • If you live in a house or in a unit complex with less than 10 units, you can book an on-demand bulky collection once a year for free.
  • If your unwanted items are in good condition, contact your nearest charity store, take them to a Recycle Street or sell them online.
  • Break up your rubbish into smaller pieces to fit it into your waste bin over several weeks.
  • Rent a skip bin.
  • Rent, borrow or buy a trailer or ute and drive your waste to one of the City’s Waste and Recycling Centres.
  • If you are renting or living in a complex, talk with your property manager or building manager about your options.
  • If you have large loads of garden clippings, take it to one of the City’s Green Organics Drop and Go centres.

Solutions for problem wastes

Problem Solution
Cigarette butts The most frequently littered item on the Gold Coast. They are made from plastic that doesn’t break down readily in the environment. They also contain chemical residues that are toxic to wildlife. Stub out your butts and put them in any public bin. If you can’t find a bin nearby, use a personal ashtray or waste container and take it home for disposal.
Chewing gum Often contains synthetic rubber, petroleum-based wax and plastic. It can harm wildlife when swallowed. It costs the City time and money to remove gum from footpaths and malls. Wrap your gum in paper or a tissue and put it in the bin. Or carry a small container for waste gum and dispose at home.
Food packaging Can block drains and cause flooding during storms. It can also harm wildlife if they swallow it or become entangled. Find a bin or take your rubbish home with you. Don’t leave loose cups, containers and packaging in the ute tray or trailer where they can blow away.
Dog droppings Can wash into drains and pollute waterways with excess nutrients, causing algal blooms. They also contain pathogens that can make people sick. Your dog and its waste are your responsibility. Remember to bring your dog bags when out and about and pick up after your pet.
Party waste Examples such as glitter, confetti and balloons are single-use plastics that can pollute and stay in the environment for a long time. They harm wildlife when swallowed. Releasing balloons is a littering offence in Queensland. Use alternatives to celebrate in the park or at the beach. Bubbles, flowers, paper decorations, rice, lights or cloth bunting can be used instead of plastic.
Kerbside waste Waste that people place on the footpath, hoping that others will like it and take it away. Neighbours often complain about it and Council picks it up, costing the ratepayer millions of dollars each year. Kerbside waste is ugly and a safety hazard. Eligible residents can book a City on-demand waste pick up service. It’s free once a year. Otherwise, refer to the other options outlined in the  ‘Disposing of large and bulky waste items’ section.
Tyres Often dumped because there are costs for their disposal. They contain synthetic rubber and oil-based plastics, so are a significant fire risk if stockpiled. They are also a breeding ground for mosquitos. Before you dispose of a tyre, consider a repair or retread. Tyres can also be recycled, either through your accredited tyre dealer, direct to a local recycler or via your City Waste and Recycling Centre.
Garden organics Can spread weeds and plant diseases if they are dumped into bushland and waterways. They can also block drains and stormwater pipes, causing flooding. Excess nutrients from garden waste in waterways can cause algal blooms. Consider chipping or composting your garden waste at home. Consider ordering a green organics bin or drop off your garden waste to a City Green Organics Drop and Go Centre.
Charity items Unwanted waste items are often dumped next to charity bins or outside charity shops when closed. These items become a burden for charities. It costs the charities time and money to dispose of these broken, stained and unacceptable donations. Read the signs. Only leave items that are on the accepted list and will fit into the charity bin. Contact the charity directly if you wish to donate furniture or other bulky items. Take stained, broken and unaccepted items to a Waste and Recycling Centre.
Construction waste Includes timber, metal, insulation, plasterboard, masonry, rock and soil. This waste can cause injury if left exposed. It can also block waterways and cause flooding. Some materials are dangerous to human health too, like asbestos. Builders and renovators are responsible for disposing of all waste properly at the end of the construction or demolition period. Dumped or abandoned construction materials should be reported, even if the offender is not known.

Report littering or illegal dumping

You can report littering and illegal dumping incidents to the City of Gold Coast in the following ways:

On our websiteReport a problem – Graffiti, rubbish and illegal dumping

Using our App – Download the City App

If you notice illegally dumped rubbish that is a risk to public safety, please call us on 07 5667 5991 as soon as possible.

When reporting an incident, the following information can assist the investigation:

  • date and time of the incident
  • location of the incident (including any landmarks if address is not known)
  • type and quantity of waste
  • description and registration number of any vehicle or vessel associated with the offence
  • description of the person responsible
  • photographs of the person in action
  • video or CCTV footage of the incident
  • if there is a yellow and black compliance sticker on the dumped items, add the sticker reference number to your report.

To report littering from a vehicle or vessel, complete the Queensland Government online form or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Frequently asked questions

What is litter?

A person litters if they abandon or discard any rubbish less than 200 litres outside a waste bin.

Common types of litter are:

  • cigarette butts
  • drink bottles and disposable cups
  • fast food and its packaging
  • chocolate and chip wrappers
  • chewing gum
  • material from a trailer that is poorly secured
  • grass clippings swept into the gutter
  • fishing tackle
  • glitter, confetti, balloons and other rubbish left from a get-together or event in public.

What is illegal dumping?

Illegal dumping is the disposal of more than 200 litres of domestic or commercial waste on public or private land without approval. Leaving unwanted items on the kerbside or outside charity bins or shops is also illegal dumping.

Common illegally dumped items include:

  • household rubbish and garden waste
  • large household items (such as furniture, mattresses, appliances and bikes)
  • building waste (construction and demolition materials)
  • tyres
  • chemical drums and paint tins
  • asbestos.

What are the impacts of littering and illegal dumping?

Cleaning up litter and illegal dumping is costly:

  • City of Gold Coast spends more than $7 million dollars a year managing an avoidable waste
  • As the city grows, more resources and staff will be needed to manage the problem

Litter and rubbish in the environment can:

  • block stormwater channels causing flooding
  • trap, suffocate or poison wildlife, causing injury or death
  • contaminate soils, vegetation and waterways
  • create breeding grounds for mosquitos and other pests.

Litter and rubbish in our streets and neighbourhoods can:

  • look untidy and ugly
  • become a safety problem, e.g. broken glass, used syringes, tripping hazard
  • become a health issue, e.g. smelly and unclean, or expose people to harmful substances like asbestos
  • make us less proud of where we live
  • encourage other illegal and antisocial behaviour, e.g. graffiti
  • give our City a bad reputation.

What are the penalties for littering or illegal dumping offences?

Authorised persons under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 enforce the litter and illegal dumping laws. An authorised person from City of Gold Coast can issue a fine to:

  • someone they observe littering or dumping
  • the registered owner of a vehicle observed or reported to be littering or dumping.

Fines for initial offences are:

Offence Fine amount for Individuals* Fine amount for Corporations*
General littering (including from a vehicle; less than 200L of waste) $309 $1548
Dangerous littering (including throwing a glass object or lit cigarette from a vehicle) $619 $2476
Illegal dumping (less than 2500L of waste) $2476 $7740
Illegal dumping (more than 2500L of waste) $3096 $11,610

*Value of fines for the 2023–24  financial year

For more information on the law and penalties, visit the Queensland government website.