Keep Britain Tidy: Food-on-the-go drives rise in fast food litter

Littering ((Foto: ©Peter-Fenge /

Wigan, UK – „The overall picture is generally positive“: 90 per cent of the 7,200 sites surveyed were at an acceptable standard for litter, reveals a new report by Keep Britain Tidy. However, the 2014/15 ‚How Clean is England?‘ report shows increases in some key litter items, with fast food litter and plastic bags in particular showing an increase.

In addition, there remains a huge difference between the most deprived areas and wealthiest areas. The reality is that in the poorest areas of the country, 25 per cent of sites are unacceptably littered. This figures falls to just two per cent in the most affluent areas. The survey also reveals that although overall litter levels across the country improved slightly in 2014/15, certain types of litter are on the increase, including fast-food litter, snack packaging and plastic bags.

Though these are not those most littered items on our streets – that dubious honour falls to cigarette butts – understanding why these particular litter types are on the increase and looking at ways to tackle them must be a priority.

Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive Allison Ogden Newton commented: „This year’s survey shows that plastic bag litter increased and they were found on more than ten per cent of sites visited. 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.

„The announcement that the Government is to develop a litter strategy for England, made earlier this month, is to be welcomed but, unfortunately, as a LEQSE survey has not been commissioned for 2015/16, we will not have a baseline survey against which to measure the success of any national initiatives.

Environment Minister Rory Stewart underlined: “Litter has a huge impact on the quality of our streets and public spaces, so it is good to hear that councils are continuing to achieve good results in reducing it. But there is clearly much more work to be done to stop this blot on our environment. 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.”

Some of the key findings of this year’s report include:

  • The most littered item – smokers’ materials – is found on 72.8 per cent of all sites
  • Dog fouling was found on less sites in 2014/15 and is at its lowest level since the survey began, being found on only seven per cent of sites
  • The number of sites affected by gum staining (gum that has been trodden in and cannot be picked up using routine cleansing methods) has risen this year by two per cent to 64 per cent.

The full 2014/2015 report „How clean is England?“, carried out by Keep Britain Tidy on behalf of the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), can be downloaded from

Source: Keep Britain Tidy