Litter Awareness Courses Could Be Coming to a Town Near You
Litterbugs beware! Speeding drivers must attend speed awareness courses. Now litter droppers may soon have to attend litter awareness courses. So what are the plans and why have they been proposed now?
Who Has Proposed the Litter Awareness Courses?
The think tank Policy Exchange has suggested in a report that litter bugs should attend courses like those speeding motorists go to.
Among the recommendations in its report were:
- A tripling of the maximum penalty for littering to £450;
- The creation of a ‘name and shame’ league table for councils who don’t do enough to enforce the law;
- The scrapping of VAT on biodegradable chewing gum and a ban on synthetic cigarette filters.
The Current Litter Situation in the UK
There’s a definite need for tougher action on litter in the UK. The clean-up bill for local authorities currently stands at £1 billion. Littering increased sharply during the pandemic; now the authorities are saying enough is enough.
Litter makes neighbourhoods look shabby and run down. It also harms animals and pollutes the environment. Manchester and Durham Councils both run litter awareness courses. People who attend pay a reduced fine.
Hitting Litterbugs Where it Hurts
Policy Exchange said the planned scheme would target the worst offenders and change their behaviour. The suggested cost of an awareness course would be between £80 and £120, the same as the national speed awareness course. The report added that the proposed increase in fines reflects the extent of the problem. It’s hoped that the increase would pose enough of a deterrent for litterbugs.
The think tank said when councils fail to enforce litter laws, it has a negative effect on communities. Its report points to an increase in crime in litter hot spots. Not to mention a perception that littering is trivial, even though it’s an offence.
A survey carried out by Clean Up Britain found that over half of 169 councils surveyed issued less than one litter fine each week. One in six councils didn’t issue any at all. The result is money is spent on cleaning up litter rather than on already stretched public services.
Are Litter Awareness Courses the Answer?
They could be. A tripling of a litter fine and time spent on a course would be a definite deterrent. Though it’s important that efforts to tackle litter at its source continue, not just punishing people after the fact.
For example, Policy Exchange suggests that planning rules should incorporate bus stops, benches, and lampposts with built-in litter bins. A spokesperson for Defra added that the government is also committed to introducing a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans. This could mean far fewer will end up in the environment. The government talks a lot about levelling up. One of the ways to improve the look and safety of the places where we work and live is by reducing litter.
So the moral of the story is bin your litter. Because if you don’t, you could be going to a litter awareness course near you! For more interesting articles on litter, litter bins, and the environment, check out the rest of our blog.