“It’s only one sweetie wrapper”: But how difficult is it to use a bin and save £1billion a year

The subject of litter being detrimental and unnecessary seems at first thought to be too thuddingly obvious to merit further comment.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 6:00 am
Whoever dropped this litter in High Street decided that using the bin five metres away was just too much to ask.

But fines are being imposed here in Sunderland, in some cases hundreds of pounds. Why would anyone do something so daft? Were the miscreants unaware that they were even committing a crime?

The Echo’s Clean Streets campaign has been running to some acclaim for almost two years now. It’s just a pity that it’s needed.

Everything is someone else’s fault; so who’s to blame for litter?

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This rubbish on Silksworth Row is inexcusable and close to several bins.

Is it the council for reducing bin collections and charging for bulky waste? Or the Government for imposing cuts on local authorities?

Or here’s a thought? How about blaming people who are too ignorant, dim or feckless to dispose of their rubbish properly?

Feeble excuses proffered include: “There’s no bins.”

Let’s waste no more time with this drivel. There’s loads of them. Even if it was true, you can take your litter home.

The Echo's Clean Streets campaign was launched in December 2017.

The indefensible practice of fly-tipping is often blamed on fees to remove bulky items. Indeed, Sunderland City Council charges a minimum £22.50 to remove it. It isn’t cheap.

However, assuming that someone disposing of say, a fridge-freezer, is doing so because they can afford a new one, then it doesn’t seem so much. An over-simplification perhaps, but the point is made.

Another hardy perennial is: “It’s only one sweetie wrapper”. Much of the 1.3m pieces of rubbish dropped on UK roads every weekend is comprised of only one sweetie wrapper, multiplied by 1,300,000.

But the best piece of pro-litter gibberish is: “I’m creating work for someone.”

Passing lightly over the point that burglars and violent criminals also create jobs in law, policing and health; what is the basis for that preposterous claim?

A report published last week by Defra says that keeping England’s streets clean costs local authorities £663million, with other authorities such as Highways England bringing the total spend of your money up to £1billion. This equates to £28 per household, per year.

There are better ways to spend a billion quid than on clearing up after people who lack the wherewithal to do something as simple, yet hugely beneficial as using a bin.

As the report also says that, incredibly, only 30% of people don’t perceive litter as a problem, it isn’t therefore too obvious after all to highlight the problem.

So for the 70%: litter is detrimental to health, wildlife and the environment (cigarettes account for 40% of street waste and take two years to degrade). It encourages rats, wastes our money and makes the place look horrible.

There is zero excuse. Keeping the place tidy is very simple and isn’t someone else’s responsibility. It’s everyone’s.

There is less than zero excuse for those charming folk who hurl rubbish round our streets, then bleat on social media about how awful this, or any other city is.

Apologies to anyone who doesn’t need to be told any of this.

Those who do need to be told should apologise to everyone else.