In Your Area, the UK’s leading local news, information and community platform is joining forces with Clean Up Britain and JLS singer and farmer JB Gill to launch “Don’t Trash Our Future”. The campaign highlights that litter fines are rubbish and urges members of the public to sign a petition to force the government to ensure councils increase litter fines from £150 to £1000 or enforce 100 hours of community service as a litter deterrent.
To launch the initiative a van with a 5 metre digital screen will be touring London, the North and the South-West, naming and shaming offending councils who have a poor track record of imposing fines across the UK.
JB Gill, the JLS singer, farmer and star of CBeebies Down on the Farm is lending his support to Don’t Trash our Future and said, “People recognise that litter is a public health concern and a major problem. Therefore the only way to stop the damage being done to our health, nature and wildlife is to sign the Don’t Trash our Future petition; object to local councils not enforcing fines and push for a higher penalty for those dropping litter.”
The decision by In Your Area to partner with Clean Up Britain comes as rubbish has become a prominently visible feature of the coronavirus pandemic. Streets have been soiled, bins are often overflowing and parks are left strewn with bottles and wrappers.
A Freedom of Information request sent by Clean Up Britain to 169 councils in England and Wales found the majority (56%) were issuing less than one fine per week for littering and more than two dozen (16%) don’t issue fines at all*.
Don’t Trash Our Future is asking that people:
- Do sign its petition at donttrashourfuture.co.uk
- Tackle littering locally by organising a clean up
- Object to local councils not enforcing litter fines
- Fight for a higher fine for those dropping litter
In Your Area and Clean Up Britain believe that while laws exist to keep the country clean, they are either flouted or not enforced on a massive scale – as recent scenes at beauty spots across the UK only serve to prove – so more drastic action is needed to change the behaviour of the public and local councils.
The launch of Don’t Trash Our Future follows a new survey commissioned by In Your Area with more than 7500 respondents revealing:
- 96% people agree litter is a public health concern
- 85% of British adults think litter is a big or major problem
- 90% of Brits don’t know anybody who has been fined for dropping litter
- 64% of Brits believe the problem has worsened since lock down has eased
- Over a third (34%) believe the current fine (£150) for littering is too low and should be raised to upwards of £500
While critics may argue the increased fine and community service terms are drastic, there is already a £1,000 fine for owners allowing a dog to ‘litter’ in public space, and not clean it up. In addition, and to compare, there is a $1,000 fine for littering in California; $2,200 Australian dollars in New South Wales and a whopping $10,000 in Massachusetts.
Commenting on the matter Merle Van Der Akker, President of Behavioural Insights at Warwick Business School said, “It is not about the absolute value of the fine, it’s about the message it sends. This level of fine tells you that this behaviour is deemed costly, and quite frankly unacceptable. Sometimes it does take drastic measures to get this message across. From a behavioural science perspective, presenting people with such a message triggers a response of shock, because of the sheer size of the fine. People then reason that if the fine is so big, the issue at hand must be of great importance or urgency. This is how you get people to pay attention and take action. No one wants to be fined £1000 for throwing away a £1 can of drink.”
Jeremy Paxman, Clean Up Britain patron said “There is only one sustainable and effective solution to littering: changing the behaviour of people who do it. Nothing else will work. It pollutes the environment. It’s dangerous to humans and animals. It depresses people because mucky surroundings make them feel worthless. It’s expensive – councils across the UK spend over a billion pounds a year trying to clean it up.”
According to respondents of In Your Area’s Great Littering survey, most people think their council is doing a bad job of dealing with litter: on a scale of one to 10, the average was four; whilst 81% of Brits think there are too few public bins in their area.
As well as asking people to sign the petition, In Your Area is encouraging neighbourhoods across the UK to clean up grot spots throughout August and September. This could be within a park, by a river, on a beach or a patch of scrubland at the end of the road. All clean ups must be organised in line with local councils guidelines, but by registering the clean up on In Your Area, participants will receive information, support and publicity by being part of the Don’t Trash Our Future campaign.
Commenting on Don’t Trash Our Future Ed Walker, Editor-in-Chief for In Your Area said, “In Your Area are proud to be working with JB Gill and Clean Up Britain to tackle the country’s litter and waste epidemic. Our users are sick of seeing their neighbourhoods being treated like rubbish dumps. Don’t Trash Our Future will hopefully make councils and members of the public think harder about the littering issue which they continuously neglect.”
John Read, founder of Clean Up Britain said, “Fines need to be increased to a level which shows the Government – and society generally – will no longer tolerate this antisocial and selfish behaviour. In addition, we also need to ensure fines are a credible deterrent, by making it compulsory for councils to enforce the law, which currently it’s not.”