Waste & Litter Education Campaigns

1. Balloon Free Byron Shire

We want to make Byron Shire a balloon and single-use decoration free place!

We are banning balloons and other single use decorations from Council owned or managed sites and road reserves.

We want to:

  • Protect our sea birds and marine life.
  • Minimise landfill
  • Reduce litter in open spaces and beaches.

What does the ban include?

  • All balloons, including biodegradable, helium, latex and water balloons.
  • Plastic disks, ribbons and strings attached to balloons.
  • Glitter, confetti, streamers and tinsel.
  • Party poppers and glow sticks.

What about latex and ‘biodegradeable’ balloons?

Latex balloons are included because studies have shown that when placed in freshwater, saltwater and industrial composting systems for 16 weeks, they did not show any signs of degradation.

Degraded latex balloons can persist in the natural environment and continue to pose a threat to marine life. 

Where does the ban apply?

The ban applies to balloons and single use decorations on Council owned or managed sites. This includes:

What are alternatives to balloons and single use decorations?

It’s simpler than you may think to celebrate without all the plastic. Be creative!

Use reusable and sustainable decorations to celebrate your next event or special occasion. 

  • Bunting: Bunting can be reused year after year. Make your own from scrap material or recycled cards and paper or hire bunting locally. 
  • Plants and flowers make great table settings or arches and can be composted after use. 
  • Fairy lights, festoons and lanterns can be used year after year. 
  • Bubbles, kites, pinwheels and ribbon wands are a great balloon alternative to add colour and fun to your event 
  • Chalkboards, artwork or paintings can help to make your event visible
  • Leaf and flower confetti instead of plastic or paper.
  • Hire a party kit – there is a growing community of people lending reusable party kits with everything you need for your celebrations. Find a participating library What is a Party Kit? | Party Kit Network

Find local suppliers of party equipment and waste-free alternatives

Reusable & waste-free alternatives to single-use

Why are we banning balloons?

We don’t want to be the fun police, but balloons are the biggest killers of Australian Sea Birds. 

They are also one of the most lethal type of debris for ocean animals, when they end up as litter in our environment. Even turtles have been found to selectively eat burst balloons because they look like jellyfish.

This is happening in our own backyard. Our friends at Australian Seabird rescue commonly rescue birds and turtles in the Shire that have consumed balloons and other plastic debris. 

Local Governments across Australia are increasingly taking the lead with balloon litter, banning balloon releases and the use of balloons on Council-owned sites in many jurisdictions. Taking measures to reduce our waste is crucial step in reducing our environmental footprint and keeping our Shire clean and healthy. 

This project is supporting our Single-Use Packaging and Materials Policy

2. Bring it Back - Bruns

Bring it back Bruns promotional graphic with a person putting litter into the bin with the Bruns Bridge in the background.

Bring it Back - Bruns was a pilot container reuse system set up in Brunswick Heads.

The Bring it Back Bruns campaign was the first of its kind in Australia.

It involved five environmentally conscious businesses using containers and cups that people returned to the shop or public collection bins for washing after they finished eating or drinking. 


  • 2,907 reusable items were collected from the public collection bins and washed.
  • 5,000 single-use items were saved from going to landfill or ending up in the environment.
  • Takeaway litter volume dropped by 30%.
  • 50% reduction in overflowing bin.

This project is a NSW EPA, Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

3. Byron loves B.Y.O

Byron loves BYO logo

Byron loves B.Y.O is a campaign to reduce single-use takeaway across the shire.

We are supporting the introduction of reusable schemes to make them more convenient for businesses and customers. Encouraging B.Y.O and reusable practices demonstrates our values as a Shire and sets a high standard for residents and visitors.

4. Lift the Lid - Kerbside bin audit program

The Lift the Lid Audit Program aims to help people improve their recycling behaviour and reduce waste going to landfill unnecessarily. The program involves kerbside recycling and organics bins being visually checked for incorrect items.

Lift the lid audits are designed to:

  • provide direct education and feedback to residents who may need extra help to recycle right
  • provide direct communication to residents who may not have seen our recent #recycleright media campaign
  • help us evaluate the performance of our waste programs and services so we can continue to improve them.

If your bin is:

  • not contaminated - well done!
  • minor contamination  - we will put a tag on your bin to let you know which items are incorrect and an education pack in your mailbox
  • grossly contaminated - we will put a tag on your bin and it won't be emptied. You will need to phone our Resource Recovery Hotline on 1300 652 625 within 24 hours to discuss and arrange a re-collection.

It's really important that we all do our bit to recycle right, because even a small amount of contamination can send an entire truck load of recycling or organics to landfill, which has significant environmental and financial impacts.

5. Source to Sea Litter Prevention Project 

Transparent Source to Sea logo We’re on a mission to stop litter from entering the Byron Shire’s waterways where it can cause harm to precious sea creatures and wildlife.

One way to do this is to stop litter at its source, or the place it originates from, before it gets to the sea.

Drain Buddies

In May 2023, we started a research project and installed litter baskets known as ‘Drain Buddies’ in the following areas:

  • Byron CBD
  • Byron Bus Interchange
  • Byron Industrial Area.

Locations and infrastructure were carefully chosen to ensure devices will not impact stormwater flow while capturing this litter.

As part of our research, we are regularly servicing these devices and assessing how much and what type of litter is captured.

This information is being used to guide ongoing efforts to stop litter from being dropped in the first place and increase understanding of the impacts of littering. 

After just two months, these devices have stopped 96kg of debris from entering our waterways. This included 91kg of organic debris and 1450 items of litter, 60% of which was plastic items including:

  • 364 plastic fragments
  • 270 cigarette butts
  • 126 single use items (cutlery, straws, sushi fish)

The Litter Journey

This artwork was created by ‘Eco with Em’ to demonstrate how a littered piece of rubbish can easily enter into nearby drains, and from here flow through the stormwater system and into local waterways. 

Once litter enters our waterways, it can impact marine life such as turtles, whales, sea birds and fish. As the fish eat the plastic, and we eat the fish, the littered piece of rubbish makes its way back to us as humans, where the ‘litter journey’ began. 

Did you know that?

  • 80% of marine debris comes from land based sources.
  • By 2050 there will be more plastic, by weight, in the ocean than fish.
  • It’s estimated that we consume the equivalent of a credit cards worth of plastic every week. 

This artwork is part of ongoing education to help stop littering that also forms part of the Source to Sea project. 

For more information on this project, contact Councils Resource Recovery Education and Compliance Officer, Zoe White zwhite@byron.nsw.gov.au

Litter Journey infographic

6. School Programs 

Council has a range of free programs and interactive learning activities designed to teach students about the importance of sustainable waste management practices at school and at home. 

We work with North East Waste to deliver sessions on

  • food waste
  • composting
  • waste audits
  • recycling

Activities can be tailored to different age groups.

Council’s Education Projects Officer can also assist with tailored programs to school topics and activities.

For more information contact Sarah Child, schild@byron.nsw.gov.au

7. Home composting and worm farming

Composting and worm farming are easy and environmentally friendly ways to recycle your household food scraps and to prevent this valuable resource form going to landfill. Take a few minutes to watch these videos and find out how easy it is to set up and manage your own system. The best part is you can produce an amazing product to use on your garden!

We sell compost bins and worm farms (that are featured in the videos) at the Byron Resource Recovery Centre:

  • on ground home compost bin - $65
  • Worm farm - $80

8. Scrap Together

Scrap Together is a community education program aimed to turn food waste into compost and remove it from landfill.

Each year, NSW households and businesses are sending almost two million tonnes of food and garden waste to landfill each year. Food rots in landfills and generates methane, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

We can reduce our emissions and waste to landfill by putting all our food scraps in the right bin.

Bones, meat, fish, dairy, grass, fruit and vegetable scraps and even yoghurt can all be added to food and garden organics (FOGO) green bins.

9. Take 3 for the Sea Byron

Take 3 for the sea Byron logo.jpg

Take 3 for Byron is all about taking action and leveraging the positive power of over two million visitors alongside our community to preserve Byron’s natural beauty through a simple action.

Simply, Take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave our beaches, waterways or natural spaces and you have made a difference.

The Take 3 project helped us achieve our litter reduction target of 40 per cent in volume by the end of 2021. The Take 3 for Byron program helped Council achieve this target by asking visitors to the area and the community to Take 3 for Byron.

How do I get involved? 

Simply Take 3! To find out more, follow Take 3 for Byron on Instagram.

10. Butt Free Byron Shire

Cigarette butts are the number one littered item in the Byron Shire, NSW and pretty much everywhere! 

That’s why we decided to tackle the issue with our Butt Free Byron Shire campaign, running since 2018 and achieving:

  • 72% reduction in cigarette butts
  • 40% reduction in ALL litter volume
  • 18.4% reduction in littered beverage items
  • 12 000+ pieces of litter picked up

Cigarette butts and all litter gets into our waterways and harms marine life, particularly turtles, seabirds and fish that all live within the Cape Byron Marine Park.

Learn how you can help keep the Byron shire clean and protect our local environment in our short video.

Read more about how we are Tackling litter in Byron Shire