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Cars, trucks, tractors, slashers, bicycles and even lawnmowers break up waste and move it through the environment.

For example, collection of kerbside waste bins by rubbish trucks can result in plastic bags, paper and other items blowing out and contributing to residential and roadside litter[2]. It highlights the importance of roads in the mechanical distribution of waste pollution[1].

Car dumped in Beerburrum forestry area Photo by Queensland Government

Quick facts

Litter falling from vehicles is dangerous.
to other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, and can result in property damage.


Mechanical processes transport waste pollution through the environment and together with wind, rain and sunshine, they also tend to break up persistent material (like plastic) into smaller pieces. These pieces remain in the environment as they do not break down into organically usable forms. For example, a plastic water bottle fragments into smaller and smaller pieces, going from macroplastics (greater than 5mm) to microplastics (100nm–5mm) and nanoplastics (less than 100nm). At each stage, these pose different threats to animals and ecosystems.

Waste made of bio/photodegradable material breaks down completely and decomposes into natural elements.


  1. ^ Gregory, MR (1978), 'Accumulation and distribution of virgin plastic granules on New Zealand beaches', New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research. [online], vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 399-414. Available at:
  2. ^ Richards, G (2019), '3,100 littering tickets - an how many went to garbage trucks: Roadshow', The Mercury News. [online] Available at:

Last updated: 10 May 2021

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2021) Mechanical, WetlandInfo website, accessed 18 March 2024. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment, Science and Innovation