Shocking results of national litter audit spark calls for change

New Zealand's littering laws are again under pressure to be changed following shocking results from a national litter audit.

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Representatives of Packaging NZ, the PM's Chief Science Advisor and Keep NZ Beautiful explain what needs to happen. Source: 1 NEWS

Today, not-for-profit organisation Keep New Zealand Beautiful released its complete report on a five-month survey. Two leading researchers sectioned off areas around the country and calculated the litter. The results were then quoted against a 1000-square-metre site and extrapolated across the area of New Zealand. 

High on today’s list – an estimated 394 million disposable nappies are littered nationwide, enough to fill 158 Olympic-sized swimming pools. 

Sarah Chiaroni-Clarke, from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, says action needs to be taken. 

“We need to pull every lever immediately, there’s no one solution to this problem. It’s going to be a combination of educating the public, making sure we’re connecting the dots where if you drop a bit of litter on the land, it’s probably ending up in our oceans,” Ms Chiaroni-Clarke told 1 NEWS. 

Executive director of Packaging New Zealand Sharon Humphreys says while it’s easy to lay blame on the amount of disposable plastic in our society, people need to be more responsible. 

“I think it’s really important that we understand that there is a difference between the litter problem and packaging. It’s not necessarily a given that just because you’re buying something from a takeaway that that is going to become litter. Litter is when it is inappropriately disposed of," she said.

Last night 1 NEWS revealed an estimated 10 billion cigarette butts are polluting our ecosystem. 

It’s also thought 44 per cent of the nation litters, with the majority of littering happening within five metres of a bin.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s chief executive, Heather Saunderson, says they’ll be focusing their attention towards education in schools to inform the younger generation. 

The Opposition's attempt to change the country’s litter laws was rejected by the Government six months ago. 

National litter audit findings

Disposable Nappies 
394,965,000 litres of littered disposable nappies across New Zealand
Enough to fill 158 Olympic-sized swimming pools 

Plastic Fragments 
3,686,340,000 individual fragments of littered plastic can be found in New Zealand
36,863 plastic pieces for every native Kiwi. 

Takeaway Containers 
New Zealand is littered with 258,043,800 litres of takeaway containers
Enough to fill 25 rugby fields one metre high 

Illegal Dumping 
265,324,848 litres of illegal dumping across New Zealand’s highways and railways
Enough to fill 2123 rail carriages to the height of 151 Auckland Sky Towers