Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Keep NZ Beautiful Announces National Litter Audit Results

Keep New Zealand Beautiful Announces National Litter Audit Results

Enough cigarettes found across New Zealand for 2,142 per person

Keep New Zealand Beautiful (KNZB) has today announced the results of the 2019 National Litter Audit (NLA), the most comprehensive litter audit of its scale ever carried out in New Zealand.

The NLA was developed in consultation with Statistics New Zealand, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment with funding from the Waste Minimisation Fund. The audit includes similarities to the Beach Litter methodology developed by these entities to allow for comparability and standardised monitoring across domains. Over 80% of the litter and pollution found in our oceans and waterways comes from land, with the United Nations estimating that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of the ocean. The importance of this audit for both land and sea litter management is immense.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful is an iconic not-for-profit charitable organisation that has been leading the way in educating New Zealanders on how to ‘Do The Right Thing’ since 1967. For 52 years they’ve been at the forefront of the litter abatement movement in New Zealand. As New Zealand’s population and tourism has grown, so has the litter problem. KNZB are committed to innovation in sustainability to combat litter and continue to serve as leaders in the environmental sector.

Heather Saunderson, KNZB CEO says, “For the first time, New Zealanders now know exactly how much rubbish we are accumulating and what that rubbish actually is. As we looked at count, weight and volume, some of the results are on par with international studies. However, there are some surprises as well, such as the volume of disposable nappies littered across New Zealand. Enough to fill 158 Olympic size swimming pools! So, there’s much work still to be done.”

KNZB undertook the audit from February to July and compiled data through the physical inspection and visual counting of litter in a number of specific, fixed sites. The audit covered quantities, types, locations and brands of litter disposed across the country.

“As you can imagine it has been a huge undertaking but a critical one for New Zealand. Now we have a benchmark and can use future audits as a tool to track our progress. Our G.J. Gardner Homes Clean Up Week on 9-15 September is a good example of one of our behavioural change campaigns that KNZB runs across the country, changing the landscape of New Zealand through educating, inspiring and empowering more New Zealanders, to keep New Zealand clean. From the research it’s clear that Clean Up Week is more important than ever and we’d encourage businesses, schools, marae and community groups to sign up here and get involved.”

A minimum of five areas per local authority were audited, across a mix of site types; public recreational spaces, car parks, industrial, residential and retail sites, as well as a mix of railways and highways. More than 40 sites in the Auckland region were monitored to account for the size of the population.

The NLA addresses the land-based litter problem by providing Tier 1 statistics and baseline data on litter across New Zealand to help inform local and national policy development and will provide the basis for ongoing environmental reporting on litter.

Executive director of Packaging New Zealand, Sharon Humphreys, says the National Litter Audit opens up a new level of conversation between institutions in New Zealand. “The work done by Keep New Zealand Beautiful not only gives us a baseline to measure future initiatives from, but allows us to draw a line in the sand and respond as a collective to hard facts. This is the litter situation in New Zealand as it is at the moment; the question is, what can we do as a nation to improve it?”

The cumulative results from the research and initiatives reported in this summary provide a foundation for the next generation of litter prevention activities. Keep New Zealand Beautiful are focussed on education, behaviour change and working with leaders of industry who are committed to sustainability. To this end, Keep New Zealand Beautiful have partnered with DB Breweries whose mission it is to ‘brew a better New Zealand’. Further details of this partnership will be released in due course.

The next audit will be crucial, says Saunderson, to fully understand the litter flux. “To truly understand and combat New Zealand’s litter issue, we will need to revisit these sites within three years’ time. Changes in litter type and the accumulation of litter can be used to assess the effectiveness of management strategies, identify sources and activities leading to the production of land (and subsequently waterway) litter and to determine threats to our ecosystem.”

The full 255-page report is available to download at

KEY OUTAKES (extrapolated data)

NLA results as quoted against a 1000 m2 site area and extrapolated across the area of New Zealand.

Cigarette Butts

10,269,090,000 littered cigarette butts polluting our ecosystem

2,142 per person in New Zealand

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 2,123 rail carriages to the height of 151 Auckland Sky Towers


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Facebook Announces New Changes: Combating Hate And Extremism

Some of these changes predate the tragic terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, but that attack, and the global response to it in the form of the Christchurch Call to Action, has strongly influenced the recent updates to our policies and their enforcement. More>>

Amazon Confirms: Lord Of The Rings Series To Shoot In NZ

Amazon Studios announced today that its series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic fantasy novels The Lord of the Rings will shoot in New Zealand. Pre-production has started, and production on the series will begin in Auckland in the coming months. More>>


Birds: Dunedin's Bells Ring As City Celebrates Its Albatross

The city's churches, schools and public buildings bells would chime in unison from 1pm, in what has been a long-standing tradition marking the return of the birds - and a farewell to this season's albatross chicks. More>>

Oscar Buzz: Waititi's Jojo Rabbit Wins People's Choice Award At Toronto

Taika Waititi's new film Jojo Rabbit has nabbed the coveted Grolsch People's Choice Award at the close of Toronto International Film Festival. More>>


Broken Estate: An Expat Expert Surveys Our Media

Melanie Bunce cut her teeth in journalism at the Otago Daily Times. Now she teaches and researches it at one of the UK’s most prestigious journalism schools and tracks the trends that shape the uncertain future of news... More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland