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Litter Charter

1 Introduction

A litter charter aims to change the behaviour of those who feel it is acceptable not to dispose of their waste responsibly. Litter within our council area not only is unsightly and has a negative effect on the perception of the area, but also is hazardous to the environment and wildlife.

Litter is a sign that people do not respect their local environment which can then lead onto other issues. Tackling litter is a wider issue than just clearing it up, education programmes in schools and communities are required along with strategic plans for infrastructure, regular monitoring on usage and emptying schedules to be reviewed seasonally.

Dealing with litter, places a significant financial and resource burden on local authorities, and a poor local environment can discourage inward investment which could result in suppression of property prices, damaging local economic growth. Therefore, it is in everyone’s interest to tackle this issue.

2 Objectives

This litter charter has been developed to ensure that West Northamptonshire has a co-ordinated charter to tackling litter across the whole council area.

The objectives of the charter are to

  • improve the local environment
  • remove littering efficiently and quickly to provide a good visual image of the area
  • work with communities and partners to support them in their activities
  • educate the public into the detrimental effect of littering

This Charter provides a detailed plan of action which is regularly carried out to tackle litter in West Northamptonshire.

We have developed a charter for the following reasons:

  • To think through issues
  • Define problems and possible solutions
  • Understand opportunities
  • Set direction
  • Benefit from best practice elsewhere
  • Get feedback and support from stakeholders
  • To adopt a co-ordinated approach across the whole of the newly created West Northamptonshire Council area
  • To provide a clear and transparent way of communicating our aspirations and methods of dealing with litter, education and enforcement

Our approach to tackling litter falls under the following themes:

  1. Communicate and educate
  2. Join up the work between different council departments
  3. Work with partners and Communities
  4. Infrastructure provision
  5. Regular maintenance
  6. Enforcement
  7. Review

3 Approaches to Tackling Litter

3.1 Communicate and Educate

In tackling littering, our main aim is to discourage the dropping of litter in the first place and encourage responsible disposal (eg using a litter bin, or taking home to recycle or dispose of). We have a range of communication and education actions we undertake:

  • Working with schools on littering, arranging assemblies, talks and visits
  • Carrying out competitions to highlight littering issues
  • Using social media to promote anti-littering messages and initiatives with other partners and community groups
  • Attending local neighbourhood meetings or community groups to talk about litter and wider environmental crime
  • Installing clear signage and stickers to encourage bin usage
  • Providing Councillor information evenings highlighting issues and successes
  • Running high profile anti-litter local campaigns
  • Promoting national campaigns through social media and our websites
  • Use message on the side of our waste collection vehicles

3.2 Work with Partners and Communities

Our litter charter will support the wider community providing positive good working relationships. That will mean consulting with community groups, businesses, schools, environmental agencies, charities, and others.

Examples of work we carry out with partners and communities are:

  • Support national litter campaigns eg Keep Britain Tidy and other charities on campaigns such as “The Great British Spring Clean”
  • Provide ongoing support through the year to groups wishing to undertake litter picks in their area by providing H & S information, litter pickers and sacks for the collection of waste. We also arrange collection and disposal of the waste following the event
  • Support local initiatives with other departments in the Council to tackle specific areas to improve the overall environment. For example, we have undertaken deep cleans in a selected area and worked with Ground Maintenance and Waste Collection departments to tackle a range of issues, supported door knocking and provision of information leaflets for residents
  • Work with businesses to reduce litter in their local area and other hot spots, including sponsoring of litter bins and litter picks, particularly working with take-away food businesses
  • Working with colleagues in the highways team and Highways England to obtain access to high-speed roads to safely undertake litter picking and having a co-ordinated approach to abandoned street signs

3.3 Infrastructure Provision

Litter bin provision is a key element for the charter. We take the following factors into account when assessing locations of litter bins:

  • Intensity of usage of an area eg high, medium or low footfall
  • Proximity to areas where litter may be generated eg near schools, colleges shopping precincts (large and local), pubs, cafes and restaurants, transport hubs and commercial areas such as car parks
  • Proximity to other litter bins
  • Customer complaints regarding litter
  • Officer inspection information which has identified litter hot spots
  • The general principle of take your litter home is applied in locations such as our country parks and some open spaces

We regularly review litter bin locations as needs change with the provision of new facilities, housing estates and opening and closing of businesses. Our street cleansing staff report damaged bins so that they can be removed or replaced.

The type of bin used will depend on the location, eg in laybys the bin provision is different to encourage use, make bins visible to stopping vehicles and to provide a size sufficient to last between emptying. We also work with partner organisations such as Highways England for layby provision.

We are also considering the introduction of “recycle on the go” litter bins in key locations and are currently assessing potential locations.

We are working with our waste collection team to provide wheeled bins instead of sacks for most properties because when waste is contained it is less likely to spill out and become litter.

We have been successful in a bid for external funding for new litter bins and signage in some areas. We will continue to bid for such funding opportunities, as they arise.

3.4 Service Design

Frequency of litter picking, and litter bin maintenance is reviewed regularly and amended following monitoring and staff feedback. Regular seasonal reviews take place and feedback from the operational team is taken into consideration when setting the maintenance schedule, as well as the resources available to the council and or our contractors.

The maintenance schedule is regularly updated to ensure it is the most suitable for the time of year and area. Some local businesses such as fast-food outlets will also assist in maintaining their local area by emptying bins and litter picking outside their premises sometimes out of our working hours.

We regularly review the equipment we use for collecting litter, trialling new plant and equipment or moving existing equipment to different areas of the council to provide the most effective use of resources.

3.5 Enforcement

We are committing to taking robust enforcement action in relation to litter, dog fouling and environmental crimes, in accordance with our enforcement policy. Teams work closely with partners and the public to identify hotspots and aim to reduce litter through actions such as:

  • Targeted patrols
  • Issuing of fixed penalty notices
  • CCTV in various locations to assist with gathering of evidence
  • Prosecution in the most serious cases
  • Publicising successful enforcement

3.6 Reviews

Regular reviews of the above aspects are carried out seasonally to ensure all information is kept up to date and schedules are suitable for the area.

4 Conclusion

This litter charter documents the approach taken to tackling litter in West Northamptonshire and details the actions we are using to do this.

Our aim is to improve the local environment for residents and visitors to the areas, making them want to live and return to the area.

Last updated 21 November 2022