UK litter set for Spring clean as fly-tipping woes emerge

Ahead of Keep Britain Tidy's annual Spring Clean event, the charity has called for action to be taken to combat "disturbing" levels of fly-tipping across the UK.

Organisations such as McDonalds and Thames21 have already agreed to act as partners for the Spring Clean

Organisations such as McDonalds and Thames21 have already agreed to act as partners for the Spring Clean

The latest DEFRA fly-tipping figures were released on Thursday (2 March). For the third year running, fly-tipping figures increased, this time by 4%, which is costing English local authorities £49.8m. Councils have attempted to remedy the issue, and carried out more than 490,000 enforcement actions last year, costing £16.9m.

Environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy has launched a campaign #CrimeNotToCare this month, which is designed to cut the supply of waste and educate the public when it comes to correctly disposing of rubbish.

“These statistics are shocking but not surprising. Local authorities are fighting a daily battle with criminal fly-tippers who are making money by treating our country like a rubbish dump," Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton said.

“We know that people do not want to live in places blighted by rubbish and this weekend hundreds of thousands of them will be taking direct action by rolling up their sleeves to take part in the Great British Spring Clean and do their bit to help the country clean up its act.”

The Spring Clean is a three-day event commencing today (3 March). Organisations such as McDonalds and Thames21 have already agreed to act as partners for the event, which sees groups of volunteers embark of various litter-picking programmes.

McDonalds’ involvement with the campaign spans seven years. During the partnership, McDonald’s restaurants in the UK have organised 2,300 events, with nearly 70,000 volunteers participating. Last year, 390 events were hosted by the company, involving more than 11,000 volunteers.

Keep Britain Tidy has been involved with numerous innovative schemes aimed at reducing litter. It was involved with a campaign at Oxford Street, which was ‘littered’ with brightly-coloured circles in order to raise awareness about chewing gum waste. Westminster was also fitted with giant cigarettes, voting ashtrays and music-playing poles - again to raise litter awareness - a pilot scheme that Keep Britain Tidy claimed reduced litter by 26%.

However, fly-tipping remains a different element to tackle. Waste disposal firm HIPPO has also used the Defra statistics to highlight the risks that individuals and businesses take when deciding to fly-tip. HIPPO notes that new regional charges have been rolled out, with some tips operating on reduced hours and charging to dispose of certain types of waste. The company warns that extra fines could be placed on those who don’t comply with waste disposal changes.

HIPPO’s managing director Gareth Lloyd-Jones said: “There’s no denying that fly-tipping is a real issue right now, not just in a few counties, but across the entire UK. It’s time to for us all to stand up and be part of the solution, not the problem.”

Welsh recycling

The news of England’s litter struggles arrives just days after the Welsh Government revealed that the country is now operating with a 62% recycling rate. Wales achieved a 4% increase in the 12 months up to September 2016.

The country is closing in on a 70% recycling and reuse target for 2025 and if the Welsh rates were recorded independently, rather than as part of the UK, it would have the second-best recycling rate in Europe behind Germany.

In comparison, recycling rates in England have fallen for the first time ever from 44.8% in 2014 to 43.9% in 2015. Keep Britain Tidy has previously criticised England for its inability to increase recycling rates, with the charity’s chief executive Richard McIlwain claiming that the country should “hang its head in shame”.

edie’s Resource Management Month

March is edie’s Resource Management Month, with a series of exclusive interviews, features and podcasts running throughout the month to drill down on the most effective ways of driving a resource revolution.

From recycling and recovery to closed-loop solutions, our Resource Management Month will explore the various ways businesses can help to deliver an economy that has moved away from ‘take, make, waste’ to a circular economy-based model based on resource efficiency, re-use and redistribution.

Read all of our resource management content here.

Matt Mace


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