For all the unexpected wonder that grey nomads find as they travel around Australia, there is one common discovery that brings almost universal dismay … the sheer amount of litter that is strewn along the sides of our roads, at our rest areas, and at our campsites.
The solution has been touted as being everything from more bins, more regular council collections services, and more education of the travelling public. In the meantime, however, it seems like the rubbishing of Australian continues apace.
On the New South Wales mid north coast, a new stretch of highway has brought the scale of the issue a lot closer to home for many. In the village of Sandy Beach, just north of Coffs Harbour, residents have been shocked – and disgusted – by the litter problem.
One of them, Tania Lamb, told the ABC that she had taken the matters into her own hands by regularly collecting rubbish from along the highway … but she admits she is fighting a losing battle.
“We clean up the Sandy Beach off ramp, and have filled 13 garbage bags from the same spot in the last six weeks, and today there is about the same amount sitting here waiting to be picked up,” she said. “Coffs Council told me to talk to the RMS, they told me to talk to the EPA, and the EPA told me to talk to the council … I’ve done the full circle.”
Peter Gill, who runs a cleaning business that requires him to drive up and down the highway, is also appalled at the amount of rubbish on the highway. He thinks more rubbish bins and perhaps a regular rubbish clean-up program is needed, but he also believes education is the key.
“We need education to reinforce the message, but we also need the infrastructure to encourage people to be better and do the right thing,” he told the ABC. “I’ve just noticed that the litter problem is growing substantially, from takeaway containers to drink bottles, nappies, human faeces and toilet paper … even couches … it is simply disgusting.”
A spokesperson for Roads and Maritime Services, which is responsible for the management of the Pacific Highway, said it regularly carried out maintenance work, including litter removal.
“The need to clean it up exposes our workers to unnecessary risk, given that litter collection is a slow and labour-intensive task,” the spokesperson told the ABC.
· Have you been shocked by the scale of Australia’s litter problem as you travel? Is one state worse than the others? What can be done? Comment below.