Eurobodalla Council rangers launched a pilot program over the weekend that for the first time rewards people with shopping vouchers if they are spotted doing the right thing with litter.
As of Saturday (July 8), plain clothes and uniformed council rangers have been on patrol across the Shire looking for anyone littering – with a particular focus on cigarette butts dropped on the ground that can end up in the region’s waterways.
Those caught doing the wrong thing face on-the-spot fines of up to $450 with three of those handed out last weekend.
However, in a first for Eurobodalla rangers, they were also the lookout for anyone seen picking up litter that may not be theirs or going out of their way to ensure their rubbish is disposed of properly with a focus also on smokers disposing of cigarette butts properly.
Coles Supermarket regional manager, John Appleby, provided twenty $25 shopping vouchers to be given away as part of the pilot program.
“It’s a beautiful part of the world,” Mr Appleby said, “so we should do everything we can to keep it that way and even if this inspires just a few people then that’s a good outcome. We have got a real responsibility to help find solutions.”
Eurobodalla Council Ranger, Rory Hogan, told East Coast Radio the focus was the environment and to change people’s behaviour – not just with fines but also by rewarding good behaviour.
“This is the first time we have trialled a reward program and hope that other businesses may also get involved in the future by offering vouchers,” Hogan said.
“It’s a new idea and a good way of having a positive reinforcement for doing the right thing.”
Several vouchers were handed out over the weekend and Mr Hogan said people were shocked.
“People were suprised to get a voucher, and there was probably a bit of disbelief that we were rewarding positive behaviour, so that was really nice to see,” Hogan said.
“Now we can use a ‘carrot’ as well as a ‘stick’ if necessary.”
Sustainability project officer, Mimosa Henderson, said the reward pilot program was part of round two of The Cigarette Butt Bin Project run with the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
As part of this project there are now over 30 cigarette butt bins throughout the Shire.
She said at one site, near the Dalmeny Playground, there had been an increase in people’s use of the butt bins by more than two thirds after they were installed.
“It’s really important that awareness is raised about cigarette butts in particular not just rubbish as a whole,” Henderson said.
“Cigarette butts are one of the most polluted items in our shire, so I think rewarding people is a positive way to do it.”
Image: Eurobodalla Shire Council