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What, where and why is litter being dropped in the UK?

What, where and why is litter being dropped in the UK?

Sadly, litter has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons over recent months with images of excessive littering in public areas, beaches and even in rural areas.

If we are to tackle the scourge of littering, it’s important to understand what is being littered, where and why. A report published earlier this year by Keep Britain Tidy was commissioned by Defra to look into these areas.

Littering on the go has long been a problem but with the issue seemingly exacerbated during Covid measures, the results of the Litter Composition Report are even more important to pay attention to.

The problem with drinking on the go

The survey, which was carried out in 2019 with results published earlier this year, incorporated information from a representative sample of sites across the country. It looked at the number of items dropped as well as at the volume of rubbish. The results showed that almost 75% of the litter dropped was related to drink consumption in the form of bottles and cans.

The most littered items, by volume (almost 25%), were small plastic bottles with a capacity of up to 750ml for non-alcoholic drinks. However, other drinks containers were regularly littered, including large plastic bottles, glass bottles and disposable drinks cups. What is more disturbing is the fact that many of these items can easily be recycled – either at home or using on-the-go recycling facilities such Amberol’s range of outdoor recycling bins.

Keep Britain Tidy Deputy CEO Richard McIlwain commented: “It’s clear that our ‘food on the go’ culture of convenience comes with real consequences, with food and drink packaging polluting our environment, which in turn costs millions to clean-up and harms native wildlife and domestic pets."

The impact of Covid-19

The problem has been exacerbated during Covid-19 restrictions for a range of reasons, including the increased use of disposable cups and bottles. This is largely due to the fact that re-usable cups are now no longer used by food and drink outlets due to concerns around Covid infections.

Measures to improve recycling-on-the-go include the introduction of a deposit return scheme, commencing in Scotland in 2022. According to Keep Britain Tidy, such schemes can improve collection rates for drinks containers to over 90%, not only reducing incidences of littering, but also creating more clean material for recycling.

Other commonly dropped items of litter include cigarette butts which according to the report, are littered more than anything else, accounting for 66% of all litter dropped.

The importance of having a long term-litter strategy

Educating the public and campaigning is only part of the answer. If we are to reduce littering long-term the government and local authorities need to ensure that they have a clear strategy for litter and that they have sufficient facilities to encourage recycling and responsible littler disposal. This includes investing in litter bins that are fit for proposal and deployed in appropriate places.

Many of Amberol’s litter bins such as the Olympic Dual Bin, the Square Deal Bin and the Chatsworth Bin include cigarette stubbers as well as wide opening and/or clearly signed apertures which ensure the right disposal of litter at source in our recycling bins. We also supply discreet Gum and Ciggy Bins for the disposal of cigarette stubs and gum which can be mounted on a wall or post.

So, whatever an area’s specific litter problem, there is likely to be an Amberol bin to offer a suitable solution. To find out more about the range of litter bins, call 01773 830 930 or email sales@amberol.co.uk.

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