Litter costing local authorities £10bn

December 11th, 2014 Category: Local Authority & Housing

Local authorities across the country need to do more to clamp down on their litter problem, according to new findings.

A report has unveiled the high cost of litter in the European Union (EU), claiming that it costs a total of £10 billion (13 billion euro).

The figure was revealed at the Stop Litter Now! summit, held in Brussels, attended by a number of stakeholders, NGOs, and both public and private companies.

In Scotland alone, the cost of litter is particularly high and amounted to over £70 million. An organisation called 'Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) has consequently launched an initiative called the 'Clean Up Scotland Campaign', which aims to make dropping litter as socially unacceptable as drink driving.

It has been supported by the Clean Europe Network, that is working towards a common system of litter measurement across the EU.

Commenting on the findings, KSB’s chief executive, Derek Robertson, also president of the Clean Europe Network, said: “This £10 billion cost equates to over £20 for every man, woman and child across the EU – a shocking statistic, and one which should startle policy-makers into long-overdue action. 

"We welcome the European Commission’s waste directive reference to litter for the first time, that is a significant step forward, but there is still not enough emphasis on litter prevention."

The report highlights the importance of local authority taking steps to manage litter in their areas and prevent it from becoming a serious and costly problem in their areas.

Separate research published by Westminster Council showed that nearly three million pieces of chewing gum are dropped on the streets in the West End each year.

Mr Robertson said that tackling litter should be more of a priority among local authorities across the UK. He added: "We can all argue about who pays the cost of cleaning up, but what is vital is that we prioritise the creation of clean communities in the first place. We want to build and strengthen a culture of cleanliness across Europe."