Litter continues to make regular headlines – and often for the wrong reasons. It’s problem that many organisations, from councils through to small businesses, struggle with. So, what can be done to tackle this ongoing issue?
A good place to start is Defra’s Litter Strategy for England, which was published in 2017. Recognising that there is no instant solution or magic wand to be waved, this document sets out the government’s aim to reduce litter within a generation using a planned strategic approach.
A key part of this strategy is that local authorities and other relevant organisations have an effective ‘binfrastructure’ in place. The term refers to the receptacles and infrastructure (fixings, signage etc.) designed for use by people who generate waste and recycling while ‘on the go’. Binfrastructure is concerned with key elements such as:
The Right Bin in the Right Place was published by WRAP, the not-for-profit organisation which aims to raise awareness and help implement strategies to reduce waste and improve sustainability within society and the commercial world. Published in 2020, the document provides useful guidance for local authorities and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in England.
The guide makes the point that having effective binfrastructure to address the issue of littering ‘on the go’ helps to reduce the costs and harm to local amenities that are associated with litter.
One of the common problems when disposing of litter and/or recycling on the go is people’s confusion over which bins should be used for the disposal of which items. A simpler binfrastructure can help cut littering by making this clearer for users.
The guide also points out that there is more to binfrastructure than just buying a number of bins and placing them in random locations, Siting bins at appropriate places with clear visual clues and messaging will significantly increase the chances of the bins being used, and of being used correctly. Studies show that the further people are from a bin, the less likely they are to use it, particularly if they are required to hold onto items such as chewing gum, food and dog waste.
Certain organisations such as councils, educational establishments and rail operators have statutory duties to keep land and highways clear of litter as far as is practicable. Under section 5 of the Litter Act 1983, a local authority in England and Wales may provide and maintain in any street or public place receptacles for litter. Once a bin has been installed, the authority also has a duty to make arrangements for the regular emptying and cleansing of that bin. In addition, litter authorities have powers to prosecute those who drop litter, or to issue fixed penalties in lieu of prosecution
In terms of recycling-on-the-go (RotG), if it isn’t technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP) to completely separate items, WRAP recommends that partial co-mingling of two or three streams may be appropriate, but that it shouldn’t be the default option.
Despite the expense of dealing with littering in public places, fewer than a quarter of local authorities surveyed in 2017 had a litter bin strategy. It was also found that the siting of bins was often in response to public comment and request rather than as a part of a strategic plan.
The Right Bin in the Right Place advocates that binfrastructure should be part of a wider local litter strategy, the key areas of which should be comprised of:
The document also stresses that any strategy should include three parts:
Until key issues such as binfrastructure are addressed strategically, litter will continue to be a problem – and a very expensive one – for many of our public organisations. Amberol recognise that there is no one-size fits all solution, which is why we have a wide range of litter bins for all spaces, including indoor and outdoor bins, and litter bins designed for recycling-on-the go.
Call 01773 830 930 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information or advice about any of our litter bins,. You can also arrange a no-obligation virtual demo to see our litter bins up close.