Top Tips for Clean Public Places


People can be helped to keep a place clean. These tips makes it easier for people to do the right thing and encourage them to be positively involved.


The tips focus on the interaction between the person using the public place and features of the place itself.


Tip 1: Maintain a proper cleaning routine – ‘clean equals clean’

Clean environments lead to less littering and more binning. People in areas that are kept clean are less likely to litter.

LBS3 00 Melb Event GP Tside Litt & Blokes 03 SOCOG 00 OLY Domain Entertainment & Outdoor Cafe Dist View 13
Why bother using bins? No one else is cleaning up. The cleaner it is, the less people will litter.


Tip 2: Make it easy

No matter what the system, it needs to be accessible, convenient and user friendly. Accessibility encourages the proper use of bins.

LBS5 02 Syd Mall Pitt Street Mall Litt Bins w Ashtrays 01 LBS5 02 Melb Wfront Yarra River Moomba WSki Bin Dist & Diff Bins (perm litt & temp rec) nr od concessions 03
Which is the recycling bin? Its hard to tell. Bins are close to where they’re needed, close to each other & signage is clear.


Tip 3: Develop a sense of responsibility

People can behave differently depending on the type of place and situation. Encourage personal responsibility by making it clear what your expectations are. Is there a carry in and carry out policy? Are there recycling or composting bins? Provide clear and polite messages, well designed and positioned bins and directions on how to use them properly. 

SOCOG 00 TE Olymp Stad Stands Bev Cont Lit 2 SOCOG 00 OLY Equest Cr Od Concs (nr) Rec Stn action 09
Might as well leave it, no direction to do otherwise … Some people help others to do the right thing when it’s clear what’s expected.


Tip 4: Use sanctions and rewards

It’s important to respond to people’s actions, be they positive or negative. Both sanctions and rewards play a central role in developing and shaping disposal behaviour.

LBS2 98 Od Tsport Central Stn DTRT Fine Sign in Plnt 98 bin monitors kingston
Litter is left behind right in front of a warning sign. Sanctions must operate effectively. People enjoy being acknowledged for doing the right thing.


Tip 5: Reduce confusion & create predictability

Ensure all strategies and programs reinforce the same expectations in all situations. People in different situations need to know what is expected of them to be environmentally responsible.

LBS5 02 Hob TSpot Pt Arthur Od Tsport Site View & Rec Stn w no signs & Bev Cont Source Sep Rec Stn 01 SOCOG 00 OLY Live Site Cent Pk Pk Rec Stn 09
Two different bin systems are next to each other. Too many choices are confusing. Consistent signage makes resource recovery easier.


Tip 6: Aim to include everyone

Involvement creates a sense of ownership which impacts positively on disposal behaviour. Tailor initiatives to promote participation from as many people as possible, including traders, staff and volunteers.

LBS3 00 Melb Event MCG Od Concs Loads of Litt No Bins in popular stg area 09 BANYULE 00 Mall Bell St Performers interact with Locals2 16
No one seems to own this public space & people treat it accordingly. Education must reach all groups.


Tip 7: Integrate prevention strategies

Strategies need to be linked to all stakeholders across the system. Integrating all strategies (including infrastructure) enables different stakeholders to work together to form an effective unit.

Domain Od Cafe (Mc's) Oflow Rec Stn3 09 GCCC 01 I1 Bch Pk Justins Pk Rec Stn w Pground in Bground 03
Inadequate back of house waste management practices result in clogged up public bins. Recyclable items shown on the signs are the same as those collected in local kerbside recycling.


Tip 8: Demonstrate commitment – ‘walk the talk’

Public place management plays an instrumental role in influencing disposal behaviour. Leadership needs to be sustained, promote a long-term vision and model the actions you are asking others to do.

LBS1 97 Canb Od Tsport Woden Trans Cr Poster Litt in Plnt 97 SOCOG 00 OLY Village Tport (Interntnl Area) Rec Stn Contam by SOCOG (Rec in Comp) 14
Contractors cleaned off the poster but littered the debris. Staff initiative helps reduce contamination.


These tips help keep community spaces clean. You can do a more comprehensive assessment of factors influencing disposal behaviour in individual locations using our Clean Communities Assessment Tool. Using the CCAT, you can dramatically improve the likelihood that your prevention program will succeed, as well as do a ‘before, during and after’ test of how effectively your litter prevention program is working.