Countdown

We just don’t have the time necessary to record every piece of litter we pick up (finalising the app will help with this!), but Jon and I do count and record the recycling.  At Pewsham Park, this was 299 individual items (39 glass bottles, 110 plastic bottles, and 150 cans).

Of this 7% (21 items) were unknown; this is primarily glass and plastic bottles that have lost their labels, indicative of rubbish that has been out in the elements for a while.  Items with an asterisk are the most common in each category.  Please feel free to skip to the end if you want to read my thoughts about this weekend’s finds.

ALCOHOL
31% (94 items) were alcohol related, with Tesco’s own brand coming out on top.  More on this later.

  • Becks
  • Budweiser
  • Caribbean Twist Mixed Mango and White Rum
  • Carling
  • Carlsberg
  • Carlsberg Somersby Cider
  • Kronenbourg 1664
  • Coors Light
  • Country Choice Dry Cider
  • Corona Extra
  • Crofter’s Apple Cider
  • Desperado Tequila Beer
  • Foster’s
  • Gordon’s London Dried Gin
  • Heineken
  • John Smith’s Bitter
  • Kopparberg Cider
  • Newcastle Brown Ale
  • Old Speckled Hen
  • Smirnoff Vodka Cranberry Mix
  • Sol Mexican Beer
  • Stella Artois
  • Strongbow
  • Strongbow Dark Fruit
  • Tesco Apple Cider
  • Tesco Everyday Value Bitter
  • Tesco Everyday Value Lager
  • Tesco Imported Lager
  • Tesco Lager
  • Tesco Original Dry Cider (16 items)*
  • Thatcher’s Cider
  • Tiger
  • Tuborg
  • Tyskie Beer
  • WKD Original Vodka Blue

ENERGY DRINKS
16% (48 items) fall into this category.  In what I think is a first, both KX and Monster beat Red Bull.  KX in particular was the clear “winner”, claiming over half the items found in this category.

  • Emerge Dual
  • KX (27 items)*
  • Monster
  • Morrison’s Source Energy Drink
  • Red Bull
  • Red Bull Tropical
  • Tornado Energy Drink

FRUIT DRINKS
6% (17 items) fall into the fruit drink category.

  • Frugo Fruit Drink
  • Oasis (4 items)*
  • Ribena
  • Robinson’s Fruit and Barley
  • Sunny Delight
  • Tesco Apple Juice
  • Tesco Orange Juice (4 items)*
  • Tropicana Orange Juice
  • Tropicana Trop50
  • Vimto

SODAS
As usual, Coca Cola came in the number one position with 19 items for normal Coke, and a total of 29 items for the brand overall.  That’s 10% of the entire recycling total.  Tesco’s brand was also prominent at 10 items, twice the number of Pepsi products found.  The fizzy drinks made a strong showing at 22% of the total recycling found.

  • 7-Up
  • Barr Bubblegum
  • Coca Cola (19 items)*
  • Diet Coke
  • Coca Cola Cherry
  • Coke Zero
  • Coca Cola Life
  • Coca Cola Vanilla
  • Dr Pepper
  • Euro Shopper Orangeade
  • Fanta
  • Ka Pineapple Drink
  • Panda
  • Pepsi
  • Pepsi Max
  • Sainsbury’s Pink Lemonade
  • San Pellegrino
  • Sprite
  • Tango
  • Tesco Cloudy Lemonade
  • Tesco Cola
  • Tesco Diet Cola
  • Tesco Fiery Ginger Beer
  • Tesco Orange Zero

SPORTS DRINKS
No competition here: Lucozade had a total of 19 items of recycling.  The category itself was 7% of the recycling found.

  • Lucozade Sport (7 items)*
  • Lucozade Energy (12 items)*
  • Powerade Ion4

WATER
5% (16 items) were identifiable water bottles, but it is likely that many of the unknown plastic bottles are just water bottles that have lost their labels.

  • Buxton Water (4 items)*
  • Evian (4 items)*
  • Hydr8
  • Radnor Hills Water
  • Tesco’s Sparkling Summer Fruits Flavoured Spring Water
  • Tesco’s Sparkling Water
  • Volvic Touch of Fruit

MILK DRINKS
4% (13 items) of the recycling was a milk drink of some type.

  • Café Met
  • Frijj (5 items)*
  • Mars Milk
  • Tesco Fresh Chocolate Milk Drink
  • Tesco Milk Carton
  • Tesco Strawberry Milk Drink
  • Yazoo Milk Drink

And, finally, 1% of the total was “other – in this case, Lipton Peach Ice Tea.

The thing that jumps out from this list is the number of Tesco branded products – in total, there were 53 items, or 17% of the overall haul of recyclables.  Last month at the Donkey Field Clean Up there were 2 items.  If you look at a map of the area, it’s easy to see the reason for this discrepancy: the Tesco Express in Pewsham is the source for probably 90% of the rubbish in the area.

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This introduces a big question: what responsibility does a shop have for the litter on its doorstep, both literally and figuratively?  In the case of Tesco, the area immediately surrounding it was a tip when we arrived to set up for the Clean Up on Saturday morning.  If there was any doubt where the mess came from, helpfully labelled receipts pointed us in the right direction (why we can’t have digital instead of paper receipts is a rant for another day).  Shops are supposed to keep within 100 metres of their premises clean and litter free – yet it’s not just Tesco who hasn’t gotten the memo.  Many shops in Chippenham and elsewhere in the UK just don’t seem to bother cleaning at all, or clean so infrequently that litter breeds more litter.

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Looking at Tesco’s role in the wider community is more problematic.  If the shop was not in its current location, I can almost guarantee that the amount of litter found in Pewsham Park would be negligible.  And yet I recognise that it is not the shop itself causing the litter but its customers. 

However, does Tesco, or any other big brand, have a social responsibility to look after the communities in which they operate?  Why can’t marketing budgets be used to address these types of issues?  Large brands know who their customer is and know how best to reach them – why not work an anti-litter message into general advertising?

After picking on Tesco for the last several paragraphs, I will say I was impressed with the speed of their response on Twitter to my comment about the aforementioned receipts.  I just hope that next time we’re out in Pewsham the manager takes up Beverly’s invitation to see the amount of litter collected – awareness of the issue is the first step towards solving it.

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