March 2015

Eunomia Launches Clean Sweep Report

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Eunomia has today launched a new report, A Clean Sweep, which sets out a series of measures to help prevent litter.

The report represents Eunomia’s response to the publication of the Commons Communities and Local Government Committee report “Litter and Fly-tipping in England”.

Eunomia supports the Committee’s assertion that ‘change is needed’ to tackle litter and fly-tipping, but believes that the measures the Committee advocates are unlikely to be effective on their own. Real change will not be delivered simply by focusing resources on cleaning up litter after the fact.

A Clean Sweep focuses on using financial and other incentives to deter littering behaviour and encourage product innovation to make commonly littered items less problematic. Key measures proposed that would help change this balance are:

  • Levies on chewing gum and cigarettes to ensure that clean-up costs are borne by the users of these products rather than the public at large. The levy would be reduced if monitoring revealed a decline in the littering of these items.
  • Extension of the proposed charge on single use carrier bags in England to remove the exemptions for biodegradable or paper bags.
  • A similar charge on all single use cups, such as coffee cups, to encourage uptake of reusable cups.
  • A deposit refund scheme on beverage containers such as bottles and cans to incentivise their responsible disposal.
  • Establishing networks of water fountains in town centres to reduce the need for people to buy bottled and canned drinks.
  • Greater use of existing local authority powers to include appropriate litter-prevention measures within the license conditions of traders such as pubs and clubs, sellers of late night food, event organisers and drink and street traders.

These measures  would bring about improved environmental outcomes at a lower overall cost than simply cleaning up after litter has been dropped. They would refocus the costs of cleaning up litter away from the general Council Tax payer, and on to the users of frequently littered items. Some could be implemented by local councils under current powers, but the majority would require new government legislation. We believe that all of these measures merit inclusion in any strategy that truly aims to tackle litter.

Lead author, Chris Sherrington, said,

“The CLG Committee is right to call for a national litter strategy for England, but the measures they recommend fall well short of what is needed to deliver a real change. That will only come when we shift the burden of financial responsibility towards those responsible for creating the problem, as they are the ones best placed to prevent it.”

The report is free to download, and can be accessed here.