Fighting Litter Around the UK: Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland

Fighting Litter Around the UK: Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland

 Fighting Litter Around the UK: Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland

In this series, we’re going to be looking at some of the best anti-litter campaigns which have been set up around the UK to combat the scourge of rubbish in our towns, cities, and countryside. This week, we’re starting in Northern Ireland with Belfast City Council, whose campaign message is ‘Throw litter away? Then cough up and pay.’

The campaign in Belfast is encouraging people to think about the potential financial consequences of dropping litter - namely an £80 fine.

The council reminds people that it has three litter wardens and nine enforcement officers operating in Belfast that have fined over 1800 litterbugs in the past year. As well as reminding people that littering will hit them where it hurts, they’ve introduced other measures to tackle litter across the city, including:


Anti-litter ads are displayed on bus shelters and there’s also a radio campaign.

Smoking litter initiative

The council has introduced an initiative called ‘no smoke without litter’ to help businesses deal with smoking litter outside of their premises. The council provides businesses with a pack which contains pocket ashtrays for staff and customers, a brush to sweep up cigarette butts, anti-litter posters, and free gum wraps for people to dispose of chewing gum which is another problematic and expensive litter to clean up.

Businesses are responsible for clearing up the litter around their premises, and the council can issue legal notices and fines to businesses who don’t deal with their litter.

Anti-litter buddies

The council have been trying to engage the public with their anti-litter message by making it fun. It has a range of characters who can often be seen in the city centre spreading the message including Litter Pig, Steve the Sweeper, and Scoop Dog. Residents can also have their photo taken with them.

Community clean ups

The council helps community groups organise clean ups in their local area. It provides brushes, shovels, litter pickers, bags, and gloves to groups completely free of charge, and it collects them, along with any rubbish that’s been collected, after the event.

Educational campaigns

The council has caught on to the fact that one of the best ways to tackle litter now and in the future, is to educate the younger generation about it. Children with a good awareness of the consequences of dropping litter become adults who do everything they can to dispose of their litter properly.

Nursery schools

The council offers half hour short story sessions to nursery school children, and the stories are all about the impact of litter on the world around them. All through December, there’s a Christmas themed story session called our Environmental Litter Friend (ELF).

Infant schools

Pupils get a short talk about litter and its impact on the environment as well as short story to reinforce the anti-litter message. These sessions are around 40 minutes long.

Primary schools

The council offers primary school pupils workshops which include short videos, games, discussions, and competitions, all centred around litter. Afterwards, teachers get an anti-litter education pack containing lessons plans, resources and a CD. The council can also help schools organise their own community clean up.

Comprehensive schools

As you would expect, the anti-litter message goes deeper once children are old enough to understand key issues and concepts around it. The council have named this campaign the ‘Let's Talk Rubbish initiative.’ It offers something a bit different to older pupils-a workshop that takes the form of a debate. The workshops are run by a facilitator and they give pupils the chance to develop an understanding of the impact litter can have on their city, think about attitudes and behaviours towards litter and our environment, explore and respond to the views and feelings of others about litter, and explore the moral issues behind dropping litter. Workshops last for an hour and up to 30 pupils at a time can take part.


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