Clean Communities Assessment Tool (CCAT)



The CCAT is a systematic method of assessment to help prevent littering in public place locations. It assesses how public places like malls, parks, beaches, markets, public buildings and transport stops perform on features that influence littering behaviour.


The CCAT also measures people’s actual littering and binning behaviour so you can do a ‘before, during and after’ test of how effectively your litter prevention program has worked.


Using a detailed rating system, direct observation of people’s behaviour, and community consultation surveys including local stories and anecdotes, the tool focuses on positive behaviours like binning and picking up litter, as well as littering.



It moves from a ‘blaming’ model that discourages effective action to a problem solving approach on how to make improvements to reduce littering and make public places more community friendly. By focusing on positive achievements the CCAT shows what’s already working so you know to keep doing it.


Each CCAT assessment is conducted by two trained assessors and generates information on:

Factors influencing disposal actions

A complex set of factors influence littering and binning behaviour. How a location performs on each of these will impact on how clean a place is likely to be. The higher the CCAT rating, the more likely a place is to appear and remain clean.

The CCAT assesses: 

  • Type, adequacy, presentation, position, performance and cleanliness of litter, recycling and butt bins
  • Condition, cleanliness and maintenance of furniture, open space, landscaping, entrance and boundary markers
  • Sense of comfort and community safety in a location, vandalism, graffiti, commercial and domestic dumping and the location’s overall ‘cleanness’
  • Community attitudes and perceptions - attitudes and views on the place itself and the adequacy of disposal facilities
  • Local stories and anecdotes.

cleaneraccess mall 

Disposal behaviour - littering and binning actions

Direct observations of littering and use of litter, recycling and butt bins links what people say they do and what they actually do. Direct observation also enables identification of the type of items consumed by people and their associated disposal behaviour.

Litter counts - amount and type of litter on the ground

Information on disposal behaviour is always the best indicator to use as litter on the ground may have blown there from somewhere else or be the result of animal or bird scavenging from bins.


Measuring litter on the ground acts as an indirect assessment of littering behaviour though when behavioural information is limited or not available. Using the CCAT, litter in a location is categorised into seven litter item types - paper, organic, confectionery, beverage, plastic film, cigarette, and ‘other’.


Location comments and action oriented recommendations

The CCAT identifies standout features of a location and actions that can be undertaken by local stakeholders to improve disposal behaviour and increase the likelihood that the place will remain clean. Positive features are also identified so you know what strategies are already working well.



Why use the CCAT?


Public places that are clean, safe and user friendly promote community participation in caring for them, as well as engendering a sense of ownership and community pride.

Clean picnic beachBells Beach

In contrast, public places that are dirty and poorly cared for attract not only litter (eventually entering waterways), but are more likely to contain unwanted graffiti and other features that promote the likelihood of anti-social behaviour.

big litter

Other costs of littering include loss of resources, clean up, health hazards such as syringes and broken bottles and fire hazard from butts.


How to stop people littering is complex with people’s individual differences only one part of a much bigger picture.


People do not simply fall into stereotypical categories of being either ‘someone who litters’ or ‘someone who doesn’t’. Their behaviour can be influenced by:

  • The presence, location and type of bins and signage
  • How clean the place was when they got there
  • The type of public place they’re in
  • The type of items they’re using and what they’re packaged in
  • The presence and actions of other people
  • Personal views and perceptions


Rottnest Is binsPig and Bin 

These influences mean that people may interact with the same item in different ways depending on the situation in which they find themselves. For example, a person might walk 300 metres to bin a plastic cup but litter the same item under the seat at a football stadium. Or someone might take the trouble to correctly their rubbish into waste and recycling bins at an event, but always litter their cigarette butts.


The CCAT comprehensively assesses these influences and provides recommendations on how to make concrete improvements to impact positively on people’s behaviour.


What is the CCAT used for?


As environmental psychologists researching behaviour change, we have been working for 20 years on what local communities can do to effectively care for and maintain their public spaces. CCAT’s strategies and techniques are the result of a great deal of time, effort and resources spent on developing, testing and validating an accessible and common sense method.


The CCAT has been successfully used at both state-wide and local levels and is most often used for:

  • Benchmark assessments of public places that can be repeated over time to check on progress as changes continue to be made.
  • ‘Before, during and after’ evaluation of the effectiveness of litter prevention initiatives.


Detailed quality control processes including inter-rater reliability procedures ensure CCAT assessments are reliable.


CCAT outcomes enable stakeholders to work cooperatively to solve litter problems and recognise achievements rather than a blaming model that hinders effective action.


Who uses the CCAT?


The CCAT is typically used by local government councils and other community organisations to develop and assess ongoing improvements or to test a particular campaign or strategy. It’s also used by Sustainability Victoria state wide to assess progress towards zero waste for various regional and metropolitan locations. See their latest Sustainability Victoria benchmark report. 

Bins at GamesClean beach & bin

The CCAT has also been used to evaluate the effects of numerous littering prevention and public place recycling campaigns. Here are some examples:

  • Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games public education litter campaign 
  • Victoria, Australia’s 'Don't be a Tosser - Bin Your Butts' award winning campaign 
  • Tasmania, Australia’s integrated ‘promotion, education & physical improvements’ approach to butt littering

brisbaneTassie butt project

  • Brisbane City Council best practice public place recycling and litter prevention programs


Training in the CCAT


Participation in CCAT training is an opportunity to learn a proven method to assess what’s required to improve your local public places, and to turn this knowledge into concrete recommendations for action. CCAT skills will enable you to regularly go back and assess the effects of your prevention activities.


The CCAT Training Program is a culmination of the experience of numerous CCAT field staff and trainers. It is conducted over 3 days and includes both class time and extensive skills practice. There is a maximum of 9 participants per program.


We provide you with comprehensive training materials:

CCAT materials

  • The CCAT Training Guide - a full set of comprehensive instructions for during and after your training.
  • The CCAT Ratings Field Guide containing the nuts and bolts of the ratings method for easy reference in the field.
  • Post training support.


Community Change licenses organisations or individuals to use the CCAT. To maintain high levels of consistency and quality control, CCAT methods and associated training materials are not able to be used by unlicensed individuals or organisations.


More information on the CCAT


For more info or to discuss individual requirements contact:

Director Rob Curnow at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on +61 3 9775 4422.



Project Support & Mentoring



We helped extend the work of a community food program to improve access to affordable, culturally appropriate & sustainable food.




We assisted a power company to apply our behaviour change framework to support environmental values & improve the uptake of green energy in the community.


garden water bottles


We helped build staff capacity to evaluate a long-term water conservation program in schools using a developmental approach & traditional methods. 




Expert Advice




 We provided evaluation advice to a state & federal government department to help        them improve community engagement in science & technology.


ccat interviewing at home


We helped a government department investigate barriers & drivers underlying household water use behaviours to inform programs to reduce water use. 

Independent Evaluation



We provided independent behavioural evaluation for a best practice assessment of a cooperative university,government and council storm-water pollution prevention program.



We conducted independent behavioural evaluation of a government & industry behaviour change campaign to reduce litter after anti-smoking legislation was introduced in licensed premises in Victoria, Australia.


bin at the games


We contributed to the assessment of green credentials for international events like the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games & the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games by evaluating the effects of waste management & recycling systems on patron’s behaviour.






We conducted state-wide monitoring of progress towards zero waste in Victoria, Australia using our 

Clean Communities Assessment Tool 


Specialist Training & Tools



Over 5 years, we developed our observational approach to locations throughout Australia.measure disposal behaviour in hundreds of public places




ccat assessment roadside



We helped train staff from 17 local councils across Victoria, Australia to assess the effectiveness of a roadside & beach litter campaign using a tailored field data collection strategy.


Training Tools


Our world’s best practice Clean Communities Assessment Tool  has been licensed to local government councils in NSW, Queensland & Victoria, Australia to assess the effectiveness of a whole of government approach to creating clean communities. Since 2003, state government organisations & consultants have also been licensed to use the CCAT.