Putting Litter First: July

A driving force behind the Putting Litter First series is to ensure that existing tools get into the right hands and that we aren’t reinventing the wheel up and down the country. North Devon Enforcement Warden Ray Jones shares my philosophy, and I have him to thank for pointing me towards aspects of waste management I hadn’t considered before. In particular, this month’s post is about what’s already available for local councils to use in the battle against litter.

    • The Voluntary Code of Conduct for Food On the Go was published by Defra in 2013, so I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not exactly current. However, why not encourage local councillors to incorporate its suggestions into the planning process, making licensing contingent on following its recommendations?
    • There’s also the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme that allows people who are already carrying out safety roles to have expanded powers, which can include litter and waste management. This is one way to multiply the number of people carrying out enforcement activities.
    • Ray also harnesses the power of the army of litter-pickers in his patch to find out where hotspots are. By knowing what’s happening on the ground, he’s able to convert this knowledge into preventative action, such as increasing the number of litter patrols. What can be done to build a bridge between litter-pickers and local officials in your area?
    • And finally, LitterCam AI will soon be tested in Maidstone. This is a new bit of technology that works with existing digital CCTV cameras to identify people littering from vehicles, allowing fines to easily be issued and hopefully leading to a reduction in litter along our roadways. Watch this space: this could be one of the most revolutionary anti-litter tools yet.

I’d also like to add that there is a lot of research out there about litter and waste. Before starting any new anti-litter project or designing an intervention, make sure to check out the existing “litter-ature” so that you can start from a solid foundation rather than spin your wheels!

This is a slightly shorter post than usual because June kept me busy with organising our Litterinar Q&A. Check out the recording below and keep an eye on the blog for when we announce our next live event.


The year-long series Putting Litter First (so we can see the end of it!) is about trying to find a middle ground when it comes stopping litter in our communities. Often, it seems like there’s a false choice presented: those who are working to stop litter can either run a litter pick or they can lobby government for higher fines or for programmes like the Deposit Return Scheme.

The problem with this dichotomy is that most of us are already doing the first bit. We’ve been picking up litter from Chippenham for six years without a noticeable decrease in the amount of rubbish found. On the other hand, waiting for the government to get its act together with higher fines, sensible enforcement, and a proper Deposit Return Scheme feels like an exercise in futility. We can (and we should) campaign for these changes, but, at the same time, we must recognise that the outcome is outside of our control.

Instead, I think there are things that can be done at the community level if enough people are willing to step forward to help make it happen. A big part of this involves making sure that the right people are aware of what tools are available and not re-inventing the wheel. Interested in learning more? Sign up to have the latest Putting Litter First blog post delivered to you on the first of every month.

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