Litter and dumping

Littering and illegal dumping not only makes our city and natural areas look dirty and uncared for, but can have significant health, safety, financial and environmental impacts.

Littering is the unlawful disposal of any type of domestic or commercial waste material of an amount less than 200 litres (about the volume of a wheelie bin) and can include:

  • Cigarette butts, drink bottles and fast food packaging thrown out of a vehicle of vessel
  • Material falling off a trailer because it was uncovered or poorly secured
  • Grass clippings swept into a gutter
  • Food scraps thrown into a garden in a park
  • Household goods left on the footpath in the hope that someone else will take it.

Illegal dumping is the unlawful deposit of any type of domestic, commercial or industrial waste of 200 litres or more in volume (i.e. the volume of an average wheelie bin or more) and can include:

  • Household rubbish and garden waste being dumped in a local park or bushland
  • Household goods (such as whitegoods, TVs, mattresses and furniture) being left on the footpath with a free sign or left outside a charity bin or shop
  • Disposing of building waste (construction and demolition materials) in other businesses industrial bins
  • Dropping off tyres, chemical drums and paint tins at roadside rest stops;
  • Driving into bushland, national parks and council reserves and dumping unwanted garden waste and/or any of the above.

Litter and Illegal Dumping Action Plan

The Cairns Regional Council Litter and Illegal Dumping Action Plan sets goals and associated actions to address litter and illegal dumping through:

  • Infrastructure that increases access to responsible waste disposal options.
  • Education that increases the uptake of responsible waste disposal options.
  • Enforcement that discourages irresponsible disposal options

Download the Litter and Illegal Dumping Action Plan ( PDF, 1.91 MB )

Report littering or dumping

You can report littering or dumping online through our Online Self Service Portal, via the free My Cairns app, or by ringing Council on 1300 69 22 47.

You can also report littering and illegal dumping to the Queensland Government.

If we can identify the person responsible for littering or dumping, Council can:

  • Issue a warning
  • Issue a compliance notice giving the offender information on how to remedy the offence
  • Fine the offender on-the-spot
  • Prosecute the offender in court


There are heavy penalties for littering or dumping of waste. These penalties are set up the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Visit the DEH website for the most up-to-date fines.

If issued with a fine for littering or illegal dumping you have 28 days to pay. If payment is not made the fine is referred to the State Penalties Enforcement Registry.

For individuals*


Depositing litter, such as cigarette butts and food wrappers $266

Dangerous littering, such as smashing a bottle and leaving broken glass

Dumping less 2500L $2135

Dumping more than 2500L


For corporations*


Depositing litter


Dangerous littering


Dumping less than 2500L $6672
Dumping more than 2500L $10,008

*Littering and dumping fines are set by the State. While all effort is taken to keep this webpage up to date, you are advised to visit the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection FAQ page for the latest fines.

Dispose of waste responsibly

You can dispose of general household waste in your general waste (green or red-lid) and recycling (yellow-lid) wheelie bins. Small amounts of green waste can also be placed in your general waste bin.

Larger amounts of household waste and recycling can be taken to Council's transfer stations. Many common items can be disposed for free including:

  • Batteries, including car batteries
  • Cardboard
  • Chemical drums (Babinda and Gordonvale only)
  • E-waste, such as computers and printers
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Gas bottle
  • Household hazardous waste, such as paint and solvents, less than 20 litres
  • Light bulbs and florescent tubes
  • Mobile phones
  • Motor oil, less than 20 litres
  • Paper
  • Recyclable materials
  • Resalable items selected for the Buy Back Shop
  • Scrap metal such as aluminium, copper, brass, steel and stainless steel
  • Smoke alarms
  • White goods such as fridges and microwaves

For construction, demolition and industrial waste, seek a commercial operator or skip hire company.

Last updated: 04 January 2021