Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

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Litter is spoiling the countryside

Litter is spoiling the countryside Photo: © maudanros/Shutterstock

Litter levels in England have remained broadly stable over the past decade, according to the official monitoring undertaken on behalf of the Government. However, this neither provides good news nor a clear picture of why the problem is so endemic and extensive.

The issue is that people drop different types of litter for different reasons. There isn’t one type of behaviour that causes people to litter, so trying to solve the problem by using one approach won’t work.

There is also a lack of focus on what happens to products and packaging before they are littered. There needs to be far greater interest and investment in the design stage of products and how they could be captured before they’re littered. For example, the problem of littered ring pulls from aluminium cans was eliminated when they were integrated into the overall design of the can, meaning they couldn’t be detached – and potentially littered – when the can was opened.

Another problem is that we’re currently paying more than £1billion every year in England to clean up litter. This is unacceptable and we must find a way to reduce this.

There has never been an attempt to coordinate the work of the organisations that are trying to deal with litter. As such, there is a wide variety of inconsistent approaches that are difficult to monitor, and there is a lack of accountability for whether this work is actually making a difference. These activities are undertaken within a 25-year-old legal framework, made up of various pieces of legislation that collectively have never been reviewed independently.

CPRE has developed a pilot project that will explore what happens when action against litter is coordinated. This will give us clear information on what work is currently being done, how that work could be improved, where cost savings could be made, highlight previously unknown opportunities and pinpoint any obstacles that need to be resolved. We will make the findings of this project publically available and review all the legislation on litter at the same time.

We will also continue to campaign for the best solutions to be considered, such as deposit return systems for drinks containers and better design of packaging.

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