Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Sustainable Cities Awards Program has been rewarding and recognising projects around litter, waste management, recycling and other environmental areas in metropolitan councils and urban communities since 1994.

About the Program

The Sustainable Cities Awards inspire councils and communities to make a genuine and lasting contribution to their area, with partnerships between local authorities, businesses, community groups, schools, and individuals.

There is no entry fee for these awards.

Who can Enter?

The Sustainable Cities Awards are open to councils, community groups and individuals. Category entrants include (but are not limited to) Councils, Individuals, Progress Associations, Youth Organisations, Landcare Groups, Chambers of Commerce, Local Authorities, Tourism Associations, Schools, Business, Small Enterprises and Industry, Registered Clubs and Service groups.

While projects may be ongoing, they must have recent significance with results shown over the past financial year. Previous overall and category award winners are welcome to enter again, but projects must have progressed from the previous entry, and those new achievements or outcomes must be demonstrated.

2020 Sustainable Cities Awards

Award Levels

The Sustainable Cities Awards Program incorporates category awards and awards for community groups, individuals and councils, culminating in an Overall Sustainable City Winner each year.

The Sustainable Cities Awards Program incorporates two levels of awards: the Overall Sustainable Council Award and the individual category awards.

These two levels recognise both individual and/or holistic projects and programs. Over the years, participants have advised us of numerous social, environmental and economic benefits of entering into the program including:

  • Increased community pride, morale, spirit; and physical, mental & social well-being;
  • Social interaction & co-operation between community members, groups and partners;
  • Improved natural environment and restoration of wildlife habitats;
  • Strengthening of current partnerships or initiation of new ones between community members and groups, councils and businesses;
  • Potential for increased tourism and amenities for the local community;
  • Reduction of waste, graffiti prevention, and enhanced management of waste services;
  • Permanent recognition for winners and valuable feedback on award submissions;
  • Public awareness of environmental education issues;
  • Networking opportunities between industry, government, and environmental leaders and experts;
  • Introduction and/or recognition of sustainability initiatives;
  • Recognition of good governance in local government;
  • Opportunities to showcase and celebrate the innovative work, expertise, and vision of your organisation or project;
  • Increased valuable media exposure for your local area and community projects;
  • Learning about other sustainability projects within NSW and sharing ideas with key stakeholders;
  • Creating excitement and motivation for communities by recognising their efforts in sustainability or other environmental initiatives and programs.

Award Categories

The Resource Recovery and Waste Management Award (sponsored by the NSW EPA) is for a project or program that tackles a range of waste and recycling problems through:

  • Waste minimisation and reduction;
  • Effective and innovative waste and recycling programs – including education and infrastructure projects;
  • Incentivising behaviour change to improve waste management, recycling and stop illegal dumping.

Projects should demonstrate inventive techniques that specifically address local waste problems, with quantifiably effective outcomes.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • Projects that use recycling and prevent material going to landfill.
  • The development of a Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan.
  • A local group addressing the problem of food waste in their community.
  • The planning and implementation of a program that facilitates appropriate disposal of items, for example, free drop-offs to help tackle illegal dumping or management of event sites.

Sponsored by:

The Litter Prevention Award (sponsored by the NSW EPA) is for a project or program that reduces or prevents litter. This could include projects that use one or more of these approaches:

  • Behaviour change techniques to stop littering.
  • New or effective ways to communicate about litter and its impacts.
  • Building partnerships or networks to prevent litter.
  • Enforcement techniques to reduce litter.
  • Create effective infrastructure and place design to reduce litter (signage, bins, other landscaping).
  • Utilising the ‘Don’t be a Tosser!’ campaign materials.

Projects should demonstrate inventive techniques that specifically address local litter issues, with quantifiable outcomes. Projects that
use more than one approach will be highly regarded. Projects can address any form of litter in any environment.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • A litter reduction campaign which involves the community.
  • A project or program aimed at a specific section of the community – for example, children, young people, culturally and linguistically
    diverse (CALD) groups, Indigenous communities.
  • A project aimed at addressing litter with a long-term solution based on behaviour change techniques.
  • Different strategies to target litter for example signage, phasing out plastic bags/bottles etc.

Previous or current Community Litter Grant applicants are encouraged to enter their projects.

Sponsored by:

The Habitat and Wildlife Conservation Award is for projects which create, restore and sustain biodiversity of our native flora and fauna in urban environments, creating wildlife corridors and encouraging habitat conservation, through:

  • Leadership and innovation in the promotion and advocacy for conserving local biodiversity;
  • Actions which improve the wildlife and habitat in an area, through community participation. For example, Landcare, Bushcare, Dunecare, Land for Wildlife and Marine Rescue;
  • Partnerships that encourage the community to be proactive in the conservation of biodiversity;
  • Policy or mission that supports the protection of local biodiversity in an area.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • Education programs and projects about local threatened species, habitat and communities and their protection.
  • Development or upgrades to community or local nurseries which provide greater access to local provenance species.
  • Supporting community participation in projects such as fauna and flora conservation. Includes promotion and education, data collection and mapping, community involvement and feedback.
  • Development of or increased involvement by the community in Landcare, Bushcare, Dunecare or other community projects that assist in the reversing of environmental damage to wildlife habitats, including bushland and waterways.

The Heritage and Culture Award is for community projects that enhance and protect either our built heritage, natural heritage or indigenous cultural heritage.

Projects may include:

  • Commitment to the conservation of built heritage, such as a building and/or other infrastructure restoration.
  • Education projects and/or research into an area’s heritage.
  • Conservation actions which promote and support indigenous heritage.
  • Proactive long-term planning that allows an area’s Aboriginal heritage to be preserved

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • The restoration of an area, heritage building or other infrastructure.
  • An event that recognises the history of an area, such as a cultural festival.
  • The protection of significant natural areas that are an integral part of the history of an area.
  • A Heritage Centre (or similar) that promotes heritage and facilitates local history documentation in an area.
  • Education which provides for the ongoing existence of the Aboriginal heritage of an area. For example, the teaching and preservation of language.

The Young Legends Award is for an individual or groups of individuals (25 years and under who demonstrate outstanding commitment to their environment and show leadership in pursuing environmental outcomes in any of the preceding categories e.g. Litter, wildlife conservation waste minimisation etc., through:

  • Advocating for change in the local area, through participation on committees or clean-up activities, volunteering at community nurseries or Bushcare etc.;
  • Working in partnership with other organisations to make significant change in relation to the environment.

Projects may be submitted by:

  • Individuals.
  • A group of young people.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • An individual who volunteers by growing plants at their local community nursery for planting in a local area of bushland.
  • A youth group who advocates the reduced use of plastic litter through active clean-ups, education campaigns and partnering with the local community.
  • A pre-school or vacation care group who take part in sustainability or environmental projects.

The Waterways & Marine Protection Award (incorporating Clean Beaches) is for programs and actions that create, restore and/or enhance our natural waterways and beaches, through:

  • Actively advocating coastal and waterway protection through education, action, data collection and partnerships.
  • Developing projects that encourage community participation in the protection of waterways and beaches.
  • Sustainably managing water resources within the community, through improved infrastructure, systems and planning.
  • Improving water quality through reducing litter.
  • Sustainable coastal use and development for healthy habitats.
  • Protecting the cultural values of the marine estate.
  • Sustainable fishing and aquaculture.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • Building a fish ladder to improve fish movement upstream.
  • Caring for a local beach, through community participation. Actions may include clean-ups, education through signage, data collection and improved bin infrastructure.
  • Weed control along streams, rivers and dunes.
  • Advocacy and action around threats to marine environments, including data collection, projects around minimising the use of single use plastic or fishing line management.

The Communication & Engagement Award is for programs and projects that inspire environmental action, through:

  • Education and communication campaigns that raise awareness of environmental sustainability for topics such as energy, water or waste reduction to create empowerment and behaviour change amongst the target audience.
  • Developing and building communication partnerships that enable sharing of resources, ideas and knowledge.
  • Creating spaces and places for environmental communication programs that demonstrate ideas and practical solutions for the community.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • A series of education workshops on a range of topics that inspire community to share ideas and learn about environmental issues.
  • Regional education programs that specifically target behaviours of a group around a specific issue (for example, wood fire smoke or illegal dumping).
  • A council that has implemented an effective communication program, ranging from media campaigns to multi-dimensional campaigns which tackle a problem from different angles.

The Recycled Organics Award is for projects and programs that reduce organics going to landfill and supports the community to avoid, reduce and recycle organics, through:

  • Development of improved technologies for the separation of organics from the waste stream.
  • Education and communication programs that support positive behaviour changes in the community, around reduced food waste, composting and worm farming.
  • Innovative ideas, action and markets for the use of compost.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • An enterprise that supports composting/worm farming through education, resourcing and innovative systems.
  • A Council that extends its waste collection to a separate green waste collection or for an existing collection to include food organics.
  • A business that is avoiding food waste and maximising reuse/ recycling of food waste through an on-site composting facility.

The Circular Economy Award is for any operationally viable projects in the circular economy which do, or could potentially, divert solid materials, fluids or energy from waste streams and return them to the productive economy.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • A business plan or strategy for a viable project. For example, a Waste Management Strategy which demonstrates how the waste streams are being diverted back into the marketable economy.
  • A financed project in precommercial development or a scheme in commercial operation.
  • A proposal by four or more participants to collaborate on developing a project.

The Renewable Energy Award is for programs and projects that progress achievements in developing products or services associated with renewable energy.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • Developing or improving energy generation or usage within an organisation.
  • Reducing reliance on fossil fuels within a community.
  • Products, projects or infrastructure that facilitate the use of renewable energy.
  • Improving business accountability for and reporting of energy use.
  • Long term plans to reduce energy
    demand, especially energy sourced
    from fossil fuels.

The Community Spirit and Inclusion Award is awarded to communities that successfully demonstrate strong community spirit and inclusion in the face of ongoing challenges. This award is given to communities that refuse to ‘give in’ when facing a challenge.

Examples of eligible projects may include:

  • A community coming together to restore and rebuild a community hub.
  • Events, programs or festivals that celebrate and promote community spirit and inclusion.
  • Activities to promote civic pride, create community awareness, cohesion and wellbeing.
  • Innovative approaches to community engagement, such as communications techniques or alternative methods of delivering events, programs or festivals
  • A community supporting each other at a time of crisis – such as through the COVID-19 pandemic or in bushfire recovery.

The Overall Award is awarded to a metropolitan council that has successfully undertaken projects or actions in multiple areas of environmental sustainability and social inclusion.

It is recommended that councils entering the overall award have a minimum of four (4) category entries.

Projects completed by outside organisations within the local government area will be considered towards an Overall entry.

Councils that qualify will be assessed by an on-the-ground assessor who will visit your projects in August/ September. Exact times and dates to be confirmed with each Council before the assessor arrives.

2022 Sustainable Cities Winners

Overall Winner


In 2022, Randwick excelled, bringing together a superior suite of long- and short-term programs and impressive and innovative initiatives. Randwick has very effectively showcased sustainability programs developed and implemented over several years, culminating in being acknowledged as the leader in sustainability across the greater Sydney region.

With a very vibrant, committed and dynamic volunteer community which works across a diverse range of sustainability initiatives, Randwick has successfully demonstrated a special focus on greening the area, critical habit management, as well as community education across many sustainability projects.

2021 Sustainable Cities Winners

Overall Winner


City of Canada Bay has set new benchmarks for sustainability, especially in engaging and empowering community to work collaboratively with Council to enhance the entire Canada Bay Local Government Area (LGA).

A range of diverse, well considered and executed programs that actively engage the community enables Council to effectively manage the myriad of sustainability and environmental challenges for decades to come. Benchmark targets to enhance waste management, emissions, efficient water use management, litter reduction, environmental protection, heat management amongst many others are clear, well communicated and achievable given the commitment and exceptional dedication demonstrated by Canada Bay this year.

Through its excellent initiatives and programs, the City of Canada Bay continues to showcase the importance of communities and Council working collaboratively to achieve common goals and connections across diverse and important range of issues.

2020 Sustainable Cities Winners

Overall Winner


The Overall 2020 Sustainable Cities Award was presented to Northern Beaches Council by Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales.

Northern Beaches Council was also the winner of the Recycled Organics and Environmental Communications Awards, joint winner of the Response to Climate Change Award and was Highly Commended in the Coastal and Waterways Protection Award and Don’t Be a Tosser! Litter Action Award, which is proudly supported by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (NSW EPA).

In addition, Northern Beaches Secondary College, Cromer Campus P&C Association and Seaforth Public School were awarded Highly Commended and Winner (respectively) of the School’s Environmental Achievement Award.

Community groups in the Northern Beaches area were also recognised in the Coastal and Waterways Protection Category with Operation Straw receiving Highly Commended and Australian Microplastic Assessment Project awarded category winner.

2019 Sustainable Cities Winners

Overall Winner


The Overall 2019 Sustainable Cities Award was presented to Cumberland Council.

Cumberland Council was also the winner of the Habitat and Wildlife Conservation Award and the Community Spirit and Inclusion Award and was Highly Commended in the Waste Less, Recycle More – Waste Minimisation Award, which is proudly supported by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (NSW EPA).

2018 Sustainable Cities Winners

Overall Winner


The Overall 2018 Sustainable Cities Award was presented to Inner West Council.

Inner West Council was also the winner of the Recycled Organics Award, and was Highly Commended in the Waste Less, Recycle More – Waste Minimisation Award, which is proudly supported by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (NSW EPA), and the Renewable Energy Award.

Proudly Sponsored by: