Packaging only a small part of litter finds survey
Packaging takes the blame for most litter and usually the first thing that people complain about when dealing with litter is plastic bags. However research commissioned by British lobbying group INCPEN and conducted by Keep Scotland Beautiful shows that focusing just on particular items in litter will not solve the problem as only a small part of litter is in fact discarded packaging.
What is needed is a comprehensive approach that targets everything from cigarette ends and chewing gum (the two most frequently littered items making up 39.4% and 45.1% of litter respectively) to drinks containers (6.4%), food packaging (4.6%), lottery slips (0.1%) and rubber bands (0.3%).
Measures targeting single items – such as deposits on drinks containers – will not achieve the objective of eliminating litter from our streets and countryside.
Litter has to be measured by number of items and also, ideally, an assessment of its visual impact as well as how easy it is to clear up.
The weight of litter is usually irrelevant because, for example, 40 grams of plastic could be either 1 bottle or 12 yogurt pots. To effectively tackle litter it is essential to know the number of items that must be picked up, and how difficult that task is.
INCPEN commissioned the work as a contribution to the consultation in 2013 on the Scottish Government’s new national litter strategy, Towards a Litter-Free Scotland, the final version of which is due to be published in summer 2014.
Jane Bickerstaffe, INCPEN Director says, “We’re very supportive of Scotland’s proposed comprehensive approach to tackling all types of litter. We believe good data is vital to underpin that strategy, not only to provide a benchmark against which achievements can be measured but also so that targeted measures can be devised. That’s why we commissioned this survey”.
Keep Scotland Beautiful surveyed 120 sites (30 each in Edinburgh, Falkirk, Renfrewshire, Inverness) between December 2013 and February 2014.
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