Litter groups and businesses unite to call on government to take a lead on litter

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

s_logoOn September 1, 2015 major national litter groups and business organizations have made a joint plea to Government to take a firm lead on litter.

In a letter to the Secretaries of State and Ministers at Defra and the DCLG the 23 signatories ask the Government to form an Advisory Committee on Litter in order to deliver a National Litter Action Plan to eliminate all litter. The signatories listed below already have a draft paper that could inform the development of the National Litter Action Plan.

The Advisory Committee will create a single channel to focus resources and will provide advice and expertise to Government Departments and Local Authorities. It will enable all parties to work together, encourage a more consistent message on littering and will also demonstrate Government commitment to reducing all litter.

As stated in the letter, “The formation of an Advisory Committee is an unparalleled opportunity to take a major step to reduce the societal impact of all litter. Without such Government leadership, efforts to deal with littering will continue to be fragmented and so less effective in delivering significant reductions in littering and in the costs of dealing with it”.

Signatories to the letter are:

British Beer & Pub Association
British Soft Drinks Association
British Plastics Federation
Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)
Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM)
Clean Up Britain (CLUB)
Costa Coffee
Foodservice Packaging Association
INCPEN (The Industry Council for research on Packaging & the Environment)
Keep Britain Tidy
Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful
Keep Scotland Beautiful
Marine Conservation Society
McDonald’s Restaurants
Packaging Federation
PAFA (Packaging and Films Association)
Pret A Manger
Tobacco Manufacturers Association

Although we have also now a plastic bag “tax” in operation in the UK which could reduce the amount of plastic bags littering the countryside though the fact that the government has not actually been firm enough with this legislation means that the reduction will be but a small one.

Furthermore education and enforcement are required to stop people in general being litterbugs and also fly-tipping of all manner of waste must be dealt with much firmer than it is at present if we really want to keep the country tidy.

It would appear that many people just do not understand that litter is not just unsightly but also a hazard to wildlife and, especially plastic will, in the process of breaking down (no, it does not decompose or biodegrade), release ever tinier particles into water courses and also the soil, causing pollution and contamination of animals and plants, some of it which is our food.

In addition to that people wishing not to leave plastic behind, such as in the case of cutlery (flatware) now tend to come into the countryside and parks for picnics with metal cutlery which they then discard in the bins or simply leave laying about. The reason those things are called reusable is because one can take them home and wash them to use again, and again, and again. Somewhere the memo does not seem to have been received, though.

The fact that litter is supposed to be put into litter bins and not by the side of them, on top of them, or dropped near them, also seems to have escaped a great many people in town and countryside alike. One really has to wonder as to whether people are simply lazy, ignorant or simply do not care. Probably they are too busy staring at the screens of the smartphones and thus missing the openings at the bins.

© 2015