Rochdale identified as one of the UK's most engaged towns in tackling the single use litter crisis

Date published: 07 February 2020

Rochdale residents have been identified as some of the most active litter pickers in the UK, according to a new impact report by Plastic Patrol.

The UK-wide report from the non-profit organisation reveals the extent of single-use litter across the UK, following the introduction of the Environment Bill to Parliament that sets to tackle environmental challenges, including plastic pollution.

The report, part of a five-year study, presents the analysis of data on 64,913 pieces of litter recorded in the Plastic Patrol app by volunteers up and down the country over a nine-month period from 5 April 2019 to 31 December 2019.

Rochdale is identified as one of the most engaged locations in tackling the litter crisis, alongside London, Nottingham, Reading and Oxford.

The top five most frequently found types of litter in Rochdale were:

  • Drinks cans (37 per cent)
  • Plastic bottles (20 per cent)
  • Glass bottles (12 per cent)
  • Plastic packaging (10 per cent)
  • Plastic bags (9 per cent)

UK-wide, the top five most frequently found types of litter were: plastic packaging (21%), plastic fragments (10%), cigarette butts (9%) and plastic bottles (9%).

Highly recyclable items – often consumed ‘on the go’ - such as metal drinks cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles all featured in the top ten types of litter, indicating that current recycling infrastructure and incentives are inadequate.

85% of plastic bags recorded across the UK were unbranded, characteristic of those handed out by small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs), such as independent grocery stores, exempt from the current 5p plastic bag charge. It is estimated that SMEs hand out 3.6 billion single-use plastic bags annually.

Stella Artois, Euro Shopper, Strongbow, Carling and Lucozade were found to be the top five polluting brands in Rochdale. A total of 1,065 brands were recorded by the public in the UK, with Coca-Cola, Cadbury, Walkers, Mars and Tesco found to be the top five polluting brands overall.

Lizzie Carr, Founder of Plastic Patrol, commented: “These results, obtained across the UK over nine months, serve as a crucial wake-up call to us all. It is clear that now is the time for Government, industry and individuals to step up our ambitions and act accordingly to tackle the single-use litter crisis, which continues despite increasing awareness.

“This report makes a number of recommendations, including a nationwide ban on plastic bags, and a call for clearer producer responsibilities. We are encouraged to see that there are powers to introduce extended producer responsibility schemes in the Environment Bill, but the devil will be in the detail as to how they are implemented. We will therefore be monitoring the Environment Bill closely as it makes its way through Parliament.

“This five-year series of reports by Plastic Patrol will be essential for assessing the adequacy of policy interventions and industry’s sustainability commitments in an important decade for environmental protection.”

Following on from the results of the report, Plastic Patrol recommends the UK Government implements:

  • A reformed waste producer responsibility coupled with a transparent regulatory framework
  • An ‘all in’ Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) that includes all single-use materials and container types and sizes
  • A nationwide ban on plastic bags

The Environment Bill had its first reading in Parliament on 30 January and includes proposals on introducing new extended producer responsibility schemes, a deposit return scheme and charges for specific single use plastic items.

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