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Plastics bags still a litter blight in England, say campaigners

Keep Britain Tidy (KBT) has reported an increase in the anti-social disposal of fast-food packaging and plastic bags.

The anti-litter charity has published the results of its annual look at the state of our streets, The Local Environmental Quality Survey of England, carried out for Defra.

KBT chief executive Allison Ogden Newton welcomed the recent announcement from the Government of a litter strategy for England, but pointed out that a survey had not been commissioned for 2015-16, thereby preventing a yardstick for the success of any national initiatives.

“This year’s survey shows that plastic bag litter increased and they were found on more than 10% of sites visited,” she said. ”As this survey was completed before the introduction of the carrier bag charge in England, we will not be able to determine whether the charge has had any impact on the number of bags littered.”

In all, 7,200 sites were surveyed with an overall acceptable standard in 90%. Although litter levels across the country improved slightly in 2014-15, certain types of litter, including fast-food litter, snack packaging and plastic bags, were on the increase.

The KBT report also finds a continuing “huge difference” between rich and poor areas, with unacceptable litter levels in 25% of poorer sites compared with just 2% in the most affluent areas.

It says there is no doubt that where litter is an issue, it has a significant impact on people’s sense of safety and fear of crime.

Ogden Newton said: “Clearly it is an issue of social justice that the poorest in our society live in the most littered places. Everyone has the right to live somewhere that is clean and litter-free and KBT, using its expertise and campaigning, will continue to fight for a better environment for everyone.”

Environment minister Rory Stewart said: “We must all work to tackle this unhealthy, costly and avoidable problem, which is why we will be working with businesses, environmental groups and local authorities to develop a national litter strategy.”

The top 10 littered items by type are:

  1. Smokers’ material
  2. Confectionery packs
  3. Soft drinks bottles and cans
  4. Fast-food related
  5. Snack packs
  6. Packaging
  7. Alcoholic drinks bottles and cans
  8. Paper tissues
  9. Vehicle parts
  10. Discarded food

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