How lockdown drove more people to the countryside… and produced more litter

Volunteers display discarded tins and bottles picked up at Graveney during a CPRE Green Clean

It can’t come as a surprise to anyone who loves the countryside that one of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a shocking increase in litter.
More than a third of adults in England (38 per cent) have seen more litter near to where they live since the start of the pandemic and more than three-quarters (76 per cent) have noticed more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) being littered, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by CPRE, the countryside charity.
Four in five people (78 per cent) would like to see the government take more action to tackle the scourge of litter. CPRE is therefore calling on the government not to delay and stick to its original timetable for a fully inclusive Deposit Return Scheme to reduce waste and litter and boost recycling.
CPRE has highlighted the poll’s three main findings:
•          The pandemic has shone a light on our throwaway culture and England’s broken waste and litter system
•          The government needs to do far more to tackle litter and support local authorities to create comprehensive refuse and recycling systems
•          This includes tackling PPE littering by promoting the benefits of reusable masks where possible and encouraging people to dispose of any single-use masks responsibly

Commenting on the findings, Isla Lester, nine-year-old anti-litter advocate and CPRE Green Clean participant, said:
“I think more people should litter-pick and think before they act, so the world can be much cleaner, much faster. This could be tackled in two ways: educationally and practically.
“It would be good if environmental issues were part of school lessons. Children need to be shown what polluting our planet really does. We need to see it for ourselves by going outside – having trips to the sea to look at the impact that litter has on beaches and sea life, and then doing things like litter-picking.
“I think local businesses should also help by putting things in place to not add to waste in their areas but to get rid of it.
“I just want more people to follow me and make the world a better place. We need everybody to work as a team to make a difference.”
During the pandemic, litter rates have risen in many areas across England. Ever-present wrappers, cartons, bottles and cups have been joined by plastic gloves and facemasks, all building up in our countryside. Litter has been a major problem for decades, but lockdown has led to new types and unprecedented levels in different places.
This was reflected in the YouGov poll, which questioned almost 2,000 respondents (1,964) across England on their perceptions of changes in litter since March 2020:
•          More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of respondents noticed more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) litter since the start of lockdown, with almost half (48 per cent) noticing a lot more
•          More than one in three people (38 per cent) noticed more litter near to where they lived since the start of lockdown, while a third (34 per cent) noticed about the same amount of litter 
•          A total of 39 per cent of respondents noticed more flytipping since the start of lockdown
•          Just over three-quarters of the English public (78 per cent) agreed that the government should be taking more action to tackle litter, including a third (33 per cent) who strongly agreed government should be doing more

 Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said: “Litter is a completely avoidable blight that currently scars our countryside. As more people than ever before venture into their local green space or countryside next door, it’s crucial that the government redoubles efforts to tackle litter and stops it pilling up in our beautiful countryside.
“That’s why ministers must follow through on pledges to tackle the scourge of litter. By investing in whole-system solutions to address litter, including a fully inclusive Deposit Return Scheme, we can deal with the long-lasting problem once and for all.
“That means no more delays on a fully inclusive Deposit Return Scheme, which should be introduced by 2023 at the latest. Hugely successful in other European countries, these schemes are proven to help drive unprecedented recycling rates and ensure thousands of tonnes of litter don’t end up in the countryside.
“We need a waste system that is responsive to changes in behaviour. Our current system has been failing for a long time – the pandemic simply put a spotlight on the waste crisis and it’s high time ministers stepped in.”
Alongside the poll, CPRE has launched Litter in lockdown, a study looking at trends in litter and waste since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. It was launched at an online event attended by environment minister Rebecca Pow MP; Cat Chapman, co-author of the Litter in Lockdown study; Feryal Clark MP, member of the Environmental Audit Committee; and Isla Lester.
On the back of a wave of public support, the government set out plans for how it would better deal with resources and waste in 2018. Over two years later, these plans continue to be delayed further following pressure from drinks manufacturers, among others. The poll reveals a delay would be against public opinion and there is a large appetite for government and business action. Three in five adults (60 per cent) agree that organisations that produce single-use items should do more to ensure they are disposed of in the right way.
The poll also revealed stark changes in where the public were spending their time in light of Covid-19-related regulations and the Litter in Lockdown study shows that where people go, litter follows. Findings included:
•          One in three adults (34 per cent) reported spending more time in the countryside since the start of lockdown
•          One in three adults (32 per cent) had spent more time in parks and this rose to 44 per cent for those with children under the age of four
•          Three-quarters of the public (75 per cent) spent less time in inner-city high streets and 69 per cent spent less time in local high streets, showing a substantial shift in where people spent their time

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Don’t cave in to the drinks industry lobbyists! CPRE urges government to adopt ‘all-in’ deposit return system

More than one in four bottles littering our countryside may not be included in the deposit return scheme (DRS) if the government buckles under pressure from industry, according to CPRE.
Responding to the publication of the Environment Bill, which will allow for the creation of the DRS, CPRE is urging the government to continue with its ambition for all drinks containers – no matter the size or material – to be included in the system and not fold under industry lobbying.
The Bill allows for the creation of the DRS but does not specify what will be included or when it will be introduced.
Evidence for an ‘all-in’ scheme continues to build, with the CPRE’s Green Clean, a nationwide litter-pick carried out in September, suggesting that millions of drinks containers would still end up littering our countryside if industry secured a limited system to serve their vested interests.
Key stats from CPRE’s Green Clean, which took place across England, include:

  • Almost a quarter (23%) of glass bottles collected were over the 750ml size limit, the current upper limit for the ‘on the go’ DRS being pushed by key industries
  • More than a quarter (28%) of plastic bottles found littering the countryside were larger than the common 500ml bottle size and could be excluded from the scheme being pushed by key industry stakeholders
  • Some 7,500 drinks containers were collected during the month-long litter-pick, including cans, plastic bottles of all sizes and glass bottles

Additionally, more than one in 10 drinks containers collected were glass, a figure that does not include the shattered pieces of glass volunteers were unable to count. These would all be left to harm people, and wildlife, should industry succeed in excluding glass from the deposit return scheme.
Tom Fyans, CPRE deputy chief executive, said: “It’s great to see the government include powers to introduce a DRS in the Environment Bill, but as the results of our nationwide litter-pick demonstrate, to be an effective deterrent to the high volumes of waste polluting our natural environment, it must cover all materials of all sizes.
“To boost recycling rates for all drinks containers – cans, glass and plastic bottles, cartons and pouches – the only option is for the government to introduce an ‘all-in’ system.
“The industries that would be required to pay for the deposit return scheme continue to try to limit its scope, but we urge the government to prioritise the needs of the environment and society over corporate vested interests.
“As the Secretary of State for the Environment announced the publication of the Environment Bill, it was encouraging to hear her recognise the benefits of the DRS in England being the same as the DRS being introduced in Scotland, which will be ‘all-in’.
“This provides further hope that the government is listening as we make the case for an ambitious approach to tackling the problem of litter. But there is no time to waste, so we hope the DRS element of the Bill will be a priority as the government takes forward this vital piece of legislation.”

Monday, October 28, 2019

CPRE’s Green Clean… volunteers pick on litter (and aren’t we grateful for that!)

CPRE’s Sarah Merrington and son Oliver got picking at Graveney
It all adds up… the scene at Graveney

Members, partners and supporters of CPRE Kent pulled on their gloves and grabbed their litter-pickers as they joined other branches, community groups and volunteers to tidy up green spaces and countryside in a collective assault on rubbish.
Evidence from CPRE’s Green Clean will be used to highlight the urgent need for a deposit return system that includes drinks cans, plastic and glass bottles, cartons and pouches.
Last year, hundreds of bags of litter and more than 11,000 drinks bottles and cans were collected, demonstrating the need for an ‘all-in’ deposit return system (DRS).
This evidence helped make the case to former environment secretary Michael Gove, who gave his backing to an all-in system, stating it would give consumers “the greatest possible incentive to recycle”.
CPRE will use this year’s Green Clean to demonstrate that the problem persists and urge current environment secretary Theresa Villiers to pick up where her predecessor had left off, introducing the best scheme as swiftly as possible.
In Kent, litter-picks were held at Graveney and Folkestone.
Volunteers at Graveney were joined by Sarah Merrington, CPRE’s deputy director of volunteering who has just moved to the county, and her sons Oliver and Billy.
Sarah told Kent Voice: “Oliver and Billy are brand-new litter-pickers – and they absolutely loved it. It’s one of the relatively few occasions I have kept them engaged in one activity for more than about 20 minutes!
“They love being active in the countryside and litter-picking really helps bring to life learning about environmental issues and their own role in looking after our countryside. They worked really well together as a team – it was lovely to see.”
Welcome to Kent, Sarah!

Thursday, October 3, 2019