Litter (rubbish)

The presence of litter in estuarine, coastal and marine systems detracts from the visual amenity of an area and can harm humans (e.g. broken glass, used needles) or animals (which eat, become entangled in, or are suffocated by, the litter).

View a conceptual model of potential causes of a change to litter and the condition responses observed as a result of this change.

Potential indicators

There are a number of causes and symptoms related to this stressor. The following indicators are recommended for the stressor ‘Litter’:

Pressure indicators

Indicators of litter (rubbish) sources:

Indicators of direct pressure:

  • None

Vulnerability indicators

  • None

Condition indicators

Physical-chemical condition indicators:

  • Presence (standing crop) of litter (rubblish)
  • Litter (rubblish) accumulation rate

Biological condition indicators:

  • None
Possible causes Possible symptoms
The actions/events/situations that might induce this stress. The actions/events/situations that might arise from a change to the stressor:
  • Presence of litter
  • Entanglement of animals
  • Death of animals
  • Visual amenity decreased

Other information on litter


Cigarette butt litter – Information about cigarette butt litter worldwide.


National Litter Index counts are conducted in November and May each year and cover 983 sites across Australia.

New South Wales

New South Wales Litter Report 2004. This report is the first in a series of biennial reports to build a picture of long-term trends in litter composition and littering behaviours through comparable subsequent surveys. This information will provide an indicator of the effectiveness of government, industry and community initiatives to reduce litter.


South East Queensland Healthy Waterways was requested by a number of local governments to take a lead role in the development of an integrated South East Queensland approach to litter management.


About Litter

Waterways monitoring reports from Tasmania’s rivers and streams provide current data on streamflow, water quality and riverine health for 2004. They can be downloaded from this page.


Port Phillip Bay Beach Litter surveys are a key component of EPA Victoria’s Beach Report program. This report summarises the results of litter surveys conducted during the 2003-04 Beach Report season.