The Litter Blighting Our Motorways

The Litter Blighting Our Motorways

The Litter Blighting Our Motorways


Highways England have launched a new initiative in the North West after litter picking teams collected over 40,000 sacks of litter from the regions roads in the last year; that’s around 108 sacks per mile.

Drivers are being urged to keep their rubbish with them rather than leaving it at the roadside, or throwing it out of their car windows, as it not only damages the environment, but it’s a risk to the safety of the workers who have to collect the rubbish.

Why is litter a problem on motorways?

Local authorities and Highways England have a legal duty to ensure they keep their land clear of litter, yet the problem seems to be getting ever worse.

Reports have highlighted how they are failing to remove litter quickly enough, and that they do not make full use of the enforcement powers that they have at their disposal.

The current issues that hinder progress

  • No research has been done on how the authorities in other countries deal with this type of litter.
  • Stretched council budgets are struggling to pay for adequate street cleansing.
  • Quiet rural roads are often neglected by councils.

What could be done to combat roadside litter?

  • The introduction of on the spot fines, which are adequate enough to be a deterrent, and which would help to pay for road cleaning services.
  • Abolishing charges at recycling centres to reduce fly-tipping

Glimmers of hope

But the litter situation is not all bleak. There have been some new developments in the fight against litter in recent years.

  • Councils have enlisted private firms to issue on the spot fines on their behalf
  • In London, the streets and underground are cleaned regularly enough to prevent accumulations of waste, as part of a shake-up of city wide cleansing services.

Considerations for the future

Litter thrown from vehicles

Legislation has been in force in London since 2012, by which the registered owner of a vehicle is liable if litter is thrown from it, regardless of whether he/she was the perpetrator.

Remove charges for using recycling centres

Many people resort to fly-tipping because they want to avoid the charges for taking rubbish to local authority recycling centres. Local authorities should consider abolishing charges and raising money for processing waste from other forms of taxation.

What happens in other countries?

Research should be undertaken to see how other countries deal with roadside waste and best practice should be shared.

Litter is everyone’s concern       

It’s everyone’s job to keep their local area tidy, and to report any concerns about litter to the relevant authorities.

You can get involved in a litter pick to do your bit, and always make sure that you take litter with you if there is no bin available.