In recent years, illegal dumping was considered a relatively local issue that affected only a few local residents. However, as cities grow and the economy expands, illegal dumping has become increasingly prevalent.
Dumping waste or rubbish in any form irresponsibly is not only detrimental to the environment; it is also harmful to our health. The negative effects of illegally dumped rubbish or waste are likely to endanger humans, the environment and wildlife in the long run.
Irresponsible waste or rubbish disposal can occur anywhere. This issue must be addressed before it further devastates our environment. This guide will walk you through the key contributors, the negative effects, and the penalties for illegal dumping.
Be one of Mother Nature’s defenders in keeping our environment safe and clean. If you own a commercial or residential property, you should know the potential consequences of illegal dumping. Continue reading to find out what your responsibilities are.
What is Illegal Dumping?
Illegal dumping, according to the Environment Protection Authority, is defined as:
‘Waste materials that have been dumped, tipped or otherwise deposited onto land where no licence or approval exists to accept such waste.
Illegal dumping varies from small bags of rubbish in an urban environment to larger scale dumping of waste materials in isolated areas, such as bushland.’
If you dispose of any of the following items irresponsibly, whether on land or in our waterways, you are guilty of illegal dumping. Let us break this down to easily understand the components and contributing factors of illegal dumping and how to avoid it.
- General domestic rubbish
- Larger domestic items e.g. mattresses, furniture, white goods, etc.
- Construction and demolition waste including excavation waste and asbestos
- Garden organic material
- Chemicals and other hazardous waste
- Abandoned vehicles, car parts and shopping trolleys
- ..and more
As the population has grown, illegal waste dumping has become a persistent and visible issue in New South Wales. Irresponsible rubbish disposal is a major issue in NSW and across the country. One method of preventing illegal dumping is to educate the community about the environmental and health consequences of dumping.
Everyone is responsible for keeping our environment clean and safe for future generations. If we are not responsible for properly disposal our rubbish, our environment will suffer. Further to that, polluting our environment can lead to the following detrimental outcomes:
- Endanger human health
- Pollute the environment and soil, as well as poison plants and animals
- Suffocate native vegetation
- Introduce weeds into sensitive bushland
- Pollute waterways
- Degrade culturally sensitive environments
- Make public places dangerous to use
- Increasing fire risks and putting lives at risk by blocking emergency access
- Degrade land value
- Cost millions of dollars in taxpayer money each year to clean up
- Undermine legitimate businesses
Visit the EPA-NSW website to learn more about Illegal Dumping in Sydney.
How Do I Report Someone Who Has Illegally Dumped?
Environmental laws protect the environment. These laws play an important role in discouraging illegal dumping, particularly hazardous materials and waste. If you see or suspect someone is violating the law, you have the right to report any illegal dumpers.
To report illegal dumpers, simply contact the local officials in charge of enforcing environmental laws. You can report the incident to local authorities or Crime Stoppers at 1800 333 000. RIDonline also allows you to submit a report if you see anyone illegally dumping.
When you see large amounts of waste being dumped, such as chemical spills or toxic fumes, call 000 immediately.
If dumped waste poses an immediate threat to the environment, please contact EPA Environment Line on 131 555.
- If there are large emergency incidents (over two trailer loads)
- Small urgent incidents are handled by the council (under two trailer loads)
- Litter being thrown or blown from a vehicle or trailer you can report it here
Local councils are more likely to handle small-scale illegal dumping, such as the following:
- General domestic rubbish
- Commercial waste
- Waste from development sites
The Office of Environment and Heritage will handle cases involving large amounts of rubbish or waste such as:
- Large and/or tons of waste
- Waste related to organised crime
- Items or rubbish that poses a serious threat to the public or the environment
Further to that, if you want to help clear away or pick up the litter, remember to put your safety first. Although this is not recommended, there are a few good Samaritans out there who want to help clean up our environment.
Just remember to exercise extra caution by wearing personal protective equipment. These wastes are very likely to contain hazardous waste, such as asbestos or lead paint.
How Much Can You be Fined for Illegal Dumping?
Illegally dumping your waste or rubbish can result in a costly fine and time-consuming clean-up. In fact, it can result in severe penalties such as imprisonment. The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) establishes a three-tiered system to combat illegal dumping. Further to that, there are two types of sanctions; individual and corporate.
Tier 3 – Penalty Notices
- a $750 on-the-spot fine, with a maximum of $1500 on-the-spot fine.
- a $1500 on-the-spot fine, with a maximum of $5000 on-the-spot fine.
Tier 2 – Unlawful use of land as a waste facility by the owner or occupier, unlawful transporting of waste
- A maximum penalty of $250,000 and a $60,000 penalty for each day the offence continues (in the case of a continuing offence).
- A maximum penalty of $1,000,000, as well as a $120,000 penalty for each day the offence continues.
Tier 1 – Willful or Negligent disposal of waste that is hazardous to the environment.
- If the disposal was done wilfully, a maximum penalty of $1,000,000 and/or seven years in prison.
- If the disposal was done negligently, the fine is $500,000 and/or four years in prison.
- A maximum penalty of $5,000,000 if the disposal was done knowingly.
- If the disposal was done carelessly, the fine would be $2,000,000.
Top 5 Illegal Dumping Facts in Sydney
Illegal dumping is expensive, and the cost of removing it is frequently much higher. Learn about the facts and consequences of illegal dumping. Illegal dumping facts are important information to understand when it comes to illegal dumping.
Knowing the facts below can provide you with a few tips on how to prevent illegal dumping of waste.
- Do you know that as part of its $465.7 million Waste Less Recycle More initiative, the NSW Government has allocated $58 million over five years to combat illegal dumping?
- Do you know that household waste was the most common type of illegally dumped material in 2019–20, accounting for 62% of all incidents recorded in the EPA’s Report Illegal Dumping.
- Repeat offenders who are caught illegally dumping waste will have their vehicles seized as well
- Illegal dumping not only costs thousands of dollars to clean up. But it also contaminates the land, which severely reduces its value.
- If a person provides false and misleading information about waste, a corporation can be fined up to $500,000, or a fine of $240,000 and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
People dump their rubbish on private or public land for a variety of reasons. These include attempting to collect recyclables, leaving a large amount of rubbish out in a short period of time, or simply littering. This is a problem that exists all over the world. And we have all been guilty of irresponsibly dumping our rubbish at some point in our lives.
Illegal dumping has serious implications for both local residents and the environment. However, if you continue to commit this horrible act despite knowing the consequences, perhaps you should seriously consider your actions.
The good news is that reporting this to the council and having the perpetrator fined or apprehended is simple. The law exists to protect us and our environment. We must ensure that we follow it.
Let us all help in educating the community about the environmental and health consequences of dumping.