Roads, beaches and waterways in coastal regions like Wollongong are among the most polluted areas in the state, according to the latest Clean Up Australia report.
The organisation's chairman and founder, Ian Kiernan, visited Berkeley yesterday to launch the annual "rubbish report", based on figures reported by last year's Clean Up Australia volunteers.
Last year 6554 tonnes of rubbish were removed across 2797 sites by 268,128 NSW volunteers.
Mr Kiernan joined Berkeley Public School students at Lake Illawarra yesterday for an early rubbish removal session ahead of Clean Up Australia Day on March 3.
He said it was a concern that last year's report showed more pieces of litter at all sites, with beaches and coastal areas recording the most pieces of rubbish at an average of 306 items.
"Recent bushfires and floods really bring home how important it is to take more responsibility for our local environment," Mr Kiernan said.
"It's hard enough coping with the clean-up required when nature hurls its challenges at us without also having to clean up after litter bugs and illegal dumpers.
"It is also extremely worrying to see such a high increase in the prevalence of beverage containers in the environment when they can so easily be captured and recycled."
Clean Up Australia Day volunteers can register at www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au or call 1800 CUA DAY (1800 282 329) for more information.