Litter Research
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Behaviour Study

To change behaviour around littering, Keep New Zealand Beautiful recognised the need to understand the mechanics of how and why people litter. This is why, in 2017, Keep New Zealand Beautiful commissioned Sunshine Yates Consulting to conduct the National Litter Behaviour Study. 

Fieldwork in New Zealand covered areas from the greater Auckland region, from Orewa to Pukekohe, as well as the Wellington region, including Porirua and Lower Hutt, in the North Island and Canterbury, including Christchurch, Rangiora, Oxford and Akaroa in the South Island.

The methodology included the use of observations of people disposing of items of litter, and surveys with members of the public, some of whom were observed disposing of items. The methodology is focussed on the behaviour of New Zealanders in public places, such as shopping streets, parks, transport hubs, public buildings, public squares, markets, waterfronts and beaches.

The study showed that nationally, 84% of people observed to dispose of their rubbish did the right thing and disposed of it in a rubbish bin, with a litter rate of 16%. The highest litter rate was in Christchurch city (22%) whereas the lowest litter rate (8%) was observed in regional Canterbury areas (Akaroa, Rangiora and Oxford). 

Of the 16% of disposal acts that were littering, nationally, 78% were of cigarette butts. Only 4% of the 1,705 disposal acts observed during the research were littering of something other than a cigarette butt. 

The full report, and executive summary report, are both available for public download from the links below. 


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Cigarettes accounted for


of littered items

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Did you know


of people do the right thing

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National litter rate


Pick it up New Zealand

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Highlight Summary Report

Click the link below to download the executive summary of the study, which provides the major findings and including pertinent statistics regarding littering behaviour in New Zealand.


National Litter Behaviour Research

Click the link below to download the full 48 page National Litter Behaviour Study report.

Do The Right Thing


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