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Convenience? A Rubbish Excuse, Take Your Litter With You

Roadside rubbish dumpers are the target of a new Waka Kotahi campaign in Auckland which has seen a camera installed on a motorway and billboards erected to try and curb the amount of litter being dropped along the transport network.

While we may pride ourselves on being “Tidy Kiwis” as much is $2m is being spent on litter management across Auckland’s state highways every year.

“Fast food wrappers are what our teams spend most of their time picking up, normally thrown from the window of vehicles” says Waka Kotahi Auckland System Manager Paul Geck.

“The effort taken, and resources used to continuously clean this up is money that we would rather invest back in our network. Instead of picking up after a few, our top priority is making safety improvements that save lives and benefit all road users like fixing potholes, road surface damage, signs and road markings.”

“Our workers need to negotiate live traffic environments in order to pick up this rubbish, so if we can change the behaviour around littering, we reduce the risk to our staff while also protecting our environment.”

80% of the litter found in New Zealand waterways comes from land. In Auckland alone, the majority is ending up in the Waitemāta Harbour and is detrimental to the ecosystem.

“We all have a responsibility to keep our roads safe and tidy, whether it’s by stopping someone from throwing their litter out the window or by reporting someone dumping rubbish on the roadside.”

Auckland System Management (ASM) is an alliance between Waka Kotahi, HEB Construction and Fulton Hogan to operate and maintain Auckland’s motorway network.

ASM can’t penalise or fine litterers, but it can provide details to Auckland Council which can impose fines.

“We have cameras covering the motorway network for traffic management and emergencies, but we’ve also installed a dedicated camera at a particular motorway hotspot to try and deter dumpers,” says Paul Geck.

Litter crews are also spending a large amount of time cleaning rubbish near residential areas which back onto the motorway, only to return a few months later to find more household rubbish, dirty nappies, and even whiteware clogging up the area.

The billboard campaign will target the worst affected areas in west Auckland (State Highway 16), south Auckland (SH20 and SH22) and the North Shore (SH1).

Waka Kotahi also want to remind people to make sure their loads are secure.

“The main litter problem is people throwing stuff from their vehicles, but 5-10% of crashes on Auckland motorways are caused by drivers swerving to avoid debris on the road,” says Paul Geck.

You can report someone littering by calling 0800 44 4449 or emailing help@asm.nzta.govt.nz

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