Litter can have an impact on the quality of life experienced in communities and there are also wider economic, social and environmental costs that cannot be ignored.
Litter can also have an impact on crime as studies show a direct link between the amount of litter and crime/anti-social behaviour levels in a particular area.
Litter is an increasing problem in our towns and countryside. Since the 1960s the amount of litter dropped annually in the UK has increased by approximately 500%.
Apart from the obvious impact on the appearance of our environment, the direct costs of managing litter are huge. Councils spend an estimated £500 million a year on cleaning. There are also indirect costs. Companies in heavily littered areas lose business.
Pets and wildlife are at risk of ingesting litter and pollutants in both town and country areas.
Who produces most of the litter?
Sadly, one in five people admitted to having dropped litter in the last year. In a survey, the most likely group to drop litter were young urban males. It was also found that smokers have a very different attitude than non-smokers. In the same survey 42% of smokers think it is acceptable to drop litter, compared with 16% of non-smokers.
Where does most littering happen?
Littering is linked to social and individual attitudes towards both public space and waste.
The most common reasons for littering are:
- that an area is already littered;
- cleaning up is perceived to be the responsibility of someone else;
- there are no bins or ashtrays nearby;
- people have biodegradable items they want to get rid of;
- when there is no incentive to dispose of litter properly;