How you can help and be part of the litter solution


Driving change is only something we can do with the help and support of people like you. Any action you take to raise awareness and help tackle the issue is valuable. Who knows, you might even become a fully obsessed litter activist!

Below we’ve listed some ways you can help and get involved. Drop us a line and let us know how you get on – we’d love to hear from you.


Simply pick up a bit of litter every day*

When people see you doing it, stand proud and keep going. What you’re doing is helping to create a new social norm. Research shows that if people see others picking up litter they are less likely to drop it themselves (and may even start picking it up).


Make a stand on social media

Like us on Facebook and share posts which you feel strongly about.

Follow and share on Twitter: @cleanupbritain

Download Littergram and help us build a litter map of Britain. If you can, post to social media to drive even more awareness of the problem.


Talk about the issue with your friends, family, local school or community group

Raising awareness is a great way to start influencing change. Check out our hideous litter stats blog post which should give you plenty to discuss……!


 Join or start a local litter pick

There’s information and support at where you’ll find everything you need to know and connect with existing groups in your area.

Here you can also quickly learn about how to use a Litter Abatement Order to force local litter hotspots to be addressed. Really powerful stuff.


Start a dialogue with the council

If litter starts to build up things will only get worse. It’s well known that clean, well loved spaces are more likely to stay that way. The reverse is also true. Encouraging your local council to maintain clean spaces helps get the battle won. Littergram can help you with this! Don’t give up!


And if you’re really bonkers ask us about – a community project run by a member of the Clean Up Britain team….


Finally, keep checking back on the Clean Up Britain website as we’re currently developing some fun, easy-to-deliver content for use in schools.


*It goes without saying that your health and safety is top priority so be careful of anything sharp, particularly dirty or otherwise grim which might pose a hazard to your health.

Hideous litter stats tell a depressing story


Litter facts and stats – here’s some of the most insightful and depressing we’ve come across. Feel free to share!


In the UK, levels of litter have increased 500% in the last 50 years (1)

It costs the UK £1bn to clear litter EVERY YEAR (2). Money which could be spent on things to really benefit society. Think of the good it could do in our struggling NHS…

A poor-quality local environment can also have wider impacts on public health, including mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. On the flip side, living near good quality, accessible green space can improve mental and physical health (3).

Wildlife suffers the consequences, as do our pets. The RSPCA receive over 7,000 phone calls a year about animals who have eaten or been injured by litter (4). They think that the real number is much higher as most owners go straight to vets and many wild animals who suffer aren’t found.

Plastics, polystyrene cups and discarded packaging are choking river habitats but tend to be hidden at the bottom of the water so go unnoticed. Decomposing plastic can release toxic chemicals which are then passed through the food chain.

Rivers and storm drains carry inland litter out to sea. There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean and 2,500 items of rubbish for every kilometre on our beaches (5).

An estimated eight million tonnes of plastic waste is added to the oceans every year and most plastic never biodegrades. It breaks down into smaller pieces known as micro-plastics. Large pieces can trap animals and smaller pieces are often eaten (6).

Litter thrown from cars causes accidents when people swerve to miss something flying towards their car, run over or hit something in the road. It’s estimated that the cost of accidents caused by litter in the UK is in the region of £8m (7).

Picking litter from the side of the road is a really dangerous job – people have been killed doing it. No-one would have to take the risk if other’s simply took their rubbish home. Some councils deem it too dangerous to clear verges on certain roads so it’s just left to build up.


Sources: 1 & 2: Local Government Association. 3: Ellway et al, 2009. 4: RSPCA. 5: Surfers Against Sewage. 6:  University of California. 7: Highways England.

Fly-tipping – don’t be unwittingly responsible

Most of us all have a load of old stuff we need to get rid of and it’s not always easy to get to the tip. Paying someone else to take it away for you is often a nice solution, especially when you lead a busy life or don’t have a huge car boot…

However, as fly tipping becomes an increasing problem it’s often down to us regular folks who, unwittingly, pay rogue traders to ‘dispose’ of our waste.

It’s simple to take these idiots out of the picture – a quick check to see if they have a waste carrier permit is all it takes. Doubly important as, by law, you are responsible for getting your waste disposed of legally and can face a huge fine if you don’t.

IT’S REALLY EASY TO CHECK – you can either:

Call the Environment Agency and ask – 03708 506 506 (cost is the same as a call to a landline number and if you have inclusive minutes with your phone it’s free to call).

Or check on-line here.

You’ll need the person or business name or registration number – if they are legitimate they should be very happy to give you both.


  • Ask for their waste carrier permit number
  • Check it online or by calling 03708 506 506
  • Ask for a transfer notice or receipt when they pick up your waste

Job done!

Behavioural science can help tackle the UK’s litter epidemic

The costs of litter are significant and varied. The annual cost of picking up litter across the UK is close to £1 billion , eighty-one percent of British people say that seeing litter on the streets makes them frustrated and angry and spending time in places that appear uncared for may result in damage to community spirit .

The huge environmental impact is hard to truly quantify. We do know that the RSPCA receives over 7000 calls a year about wildlife ingesting and being injured by litter and a recent analysis estimated that, by 2050, plastic will outweigh fish in our oceans . Plastic litter on beaches has increased 140% since 1994 and microplastic particles are now found inside filter feeding animals and amongst sand grains on our beaches.

It’s a sad and worsening picture, and with litter levels up 500% in the last 50 years a new approach needs to be taken.

Behavioural science is being used in all sorts of areas of public life and Professor Daniel Read, of the Behavioural Science Group at WBS, believes it can be used to help the country’s litter problem.

Professor Read said: “Littering is a socially undesirable behaviour that is highly amenable to being managed using methods from behavioural science.

“Most people don’t actively want to litter, but do so because it is convenient, because they see other people doing it, and often because they don’t think about what they are doing.

“In partnership with Clean Up Britain we hope to use behavioural insights to change how people think about littering and, more importantly, how they behave.”

’Using behavioural insights to reduce littering in the UK’ written by Julia Kolodko and Umar Taj, takes a look at potential nudges and interventions to change the behaviour and attitudes of litterers in the UK. You can download it here.

Will Britain embrace a plastic bottle deposit scheme?

This month our Patron Jeremy Paxman wrote a passionate piece which featured in the Daily Mail, calling for the government to back a plastic bottle deposit return scheme.

Deposit return schemes already exist in many other counties and see customers pay a small cash deposit as part of the price of a drink in a plastic bottle. They get the money back when they return the item to a collection point.

There are strong arguments for supporting a UK deposit return scheme, not least the potential positive impacts on litter, landfill and recycling rates.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) however have said a policy is “unlikely”, although “not off the table”.

Up until this week a major part part of the challenge was the position of industry and drinks manufacturers who will bear significant cost should a scheme be introduced. However Coca-Cola have now publicly committed to exploring the introduction of a deposit return scheme:

“Our sustainable packaging review is ongoing, but it’s already clear from our conversations with experts that the time is right to trial new interventions such as a well-designed deposit return scheme for drinks containers, starting in Scotland where conversations are underway.

“We’ve also been talking to and listening to our consumers and know two thirds (63%) of them support the introduction of a deposit return system in the UK, and half (51%) say they’d be more likely to recycle as a result. From our experience elsewhere in Europe, we know that deposit schemes can work if they are developed as part of an overall strategy on the circular economy, in collaboration with all industry stakeholders. We are open to exploring any well-thought-through initiative that has the potential to increase recycling and reduce litter.’

We will be keeping close to developments and post updates as progress is made.

You can read Jeremy’s full article here.

Jeremy Paxman calls on brands to act in the fight against litter

Jeremy spoke at the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) Environment Seminar, on behalf of Clean Up Britain and called on major brands to change the way the public interacts with waste packaging.

“Litter is the sort of advertising that nobody wants,” Jeremy said. “If the sides of the roads are littered with rubbish baring your logo, then you have got a problem.

“What we need to do most of all is to change the way people behave. Businesses have to make dumping litter socially unacceptable in the same way that drink driving now is. It is increasingly clear that the only way for us to win the war on litter is for all of us to come together in a far more integrated way.

“We need a coordinated, collaborative initiative involving environment boards and companies, trade unions and the private sector. I don’t think the Government will help, they’ve already failed us.”

Jeremy noted that the amount of litter in the UK had increased by around 500% over the past 50 years, and last year alone, local authorities across the UK spent more than £1bn on removing litter from our streets.

He called on the private sector to fund behavioural change campaigns that will not only reduce public littering, but “will get Government to jump on the bandwagon of a successful collaborative initiative”.