The work of Keep Britain Tidy (KBT) has been praised by resource minister Dan Rogerson as the organisation adjusts to a future without grants from Whitehall.
Rogerson was speaking at the charity’s annual awards event in Liverpool, which this year marked its diamond anniversary.
He noted that its new three-fold strategy for the next five to 10 years was to work towards the elimination of litter, improving local places and ending waste.
“This is not just about litter. We need to make the best use of our materials and resources to prevent waste, recycle efficiently and deal with waste properly,” he said, adding that a circular economy approach was crucial.
Rogerson remarked on KGT’s “truly ground-breaking research”, and said it was “the place to go to if you want out the latest most successful way to reduce litter”, although he acknowledged it had faced the challenge of losing its grant from Defra.
The minister specifically referred to the ‘Love Essex’ partnership between local authorities and business which secured a 41% cut in fast food litter, saying it had achieved “tangible change”. The campaign went on to win the partnership award, sponsored by Johnson Sweepers.
He pointed out that KBT is a partner on the ‘England Springclean’ weekend on 20-21 March, saying that “only by working together can we make a real difference”.
The event marked the imminent retirement of KBT chief executive Phil Bartram. Rogerson congratulated him on his “dedication and devotion to the cause over seven years”.
Bartram told the audience that the charity was “looking forward despite a lot of changes in a challenging time”.
He added: “At last the Government has woken up to the importance of waste reduction, faced with flatlining recycling rates.”
Bartram also mentioned the circular economy, saying the awaited revised European Commission package on resources and waste “had critical implications for all of us in how we go about wasting less and [tackling] litter”.
The chief executive mentioned two recent positive developments: the involvement of KBT and 15 EU member states in the ‘Clean Europe Campaign’ and the addition of six major companies to a national litter commitment – which he expected to become 20 in 2015.
A new award category was Waste Less Live More, which was claimed by Respoke, run by the Gascoigne Cycle Exchange in London. It reuses bikes otherwise destined for landfill and offers skills to people struggling to get into work. Other notable entries was Blackpool Council’s Rover Recycling project (see below), which offers a ‘mobile recycling centre’ (runner-up in the campaign award) and Liverpool Amey’s ‘Trash for Cash’ scheme, which claimed the environmental team award for selling collected recyclates to raise cash for charity.
Rover’s recycling revolution
With more than 36% of Blackpool residents being without a car – about 23,000 people – many are not able to drive to our household waste recycling centre. So, rather than waiting for people to come to “the tip”, we decided “let’s take the tip to them”.
Helping Hand, a local social enterprise, won the tender process and now drives to a different area of town every day. It stops at around 10 locations within residential areas, allowing people to drop off their unwanted household items. Rover collects everything from VHS tapes to vacuum cleaners, and gives employment opportunities to people in our community who need them.
Routes, locations and times are advertised widely in our social media streams, local press and radio stations, and our council newspaper. We post regular updates on the host webpage and work with local community groups to make people aware that Rover is on its rounds. It even plays an ice-cream van-like jingle so homeowners can here it coming.
The scheme is part-funded through a waste minimisation agreement with our PFI waste recycling contractor. At a cost of just £45,000 for initial 18-month pilot, it has been great value. In its first year alone, Rover collected 116 tonnes of waste, engaged with more than 6,000 people and collected more than 37,000 items.
John Blackledge, Blackpool’s director for community and environmental services.