Everyone agrees litter and littering is bad but it is still an issue. The solution is for everyone – individuals, industry, campaign groups, local and central governments – to join forces to prevent all litter. Any piece of litter spoils the environment and makes it look uncared for.
There is no point in clearing up just some of it because litter breeds litter. That’s why initiatives like bottle deposits return schemes (DRS) don’t work. They target just one type and leave the rest to attract more.
Manufacturers and retailers work to reduce the environmental impact of their products and packaging, including investing in anti-litter interventions and supporting anti-litter campaigners.
There is no evidence from anywhere in the world that deposits systems prevent litter. Even in Sweden which has a deposit system, irresponsible people still litter containers. The most recent report from the Swedish anti-litter organisation Håll Sverige Rent shows photos of littered containers. Pages 11 (litter collection in the countryside) and 27 (littered park).
Worse than that, deposit systems undermine recycling. The UK has invested heavily in kerbside recycling. Let’s continue to strengthen and build on it, not divert the most valuable materials to a parallel system that would require more lorries on the road, increase emissions and carbon and be costly and inconvenient for consumers.
We can learn from other countries. When Germany introduced a DRS in 2003 its recycling rates dropped and over ten years later has still not recovered to the same level. Let’s not make the same mistake.
We live in a beautiful country, let’s keep it that way. It’s great that so many people volunteer to clean up litter but it would not be necessary if we all take responsibility for putting all the things we no longer want – whether it’s a till receipt, bottle, medical waste, apple core or fishing net – in a bin.
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