Yet nearly half of us (48% of the population) admit to dropping litter. The amount of litter we drop – seven-tenths of it food related – is five times greater today than it was in the 1960s. Illegal fly-tipping, from one black bag to thousands of tonnes of construction waste, happens every 12 seconds. An estimated 122 tons of cigarette butts and cigarette-related litter is dropped every day across the UK. A third of drivers admitting to throwing litter while on the road – dropping 1.3 million pieces of rubbish on Highways Agency roads alone every weekend. Nearly all farmers (95%) have been forced to clear other people’s rubbish from their land.
And most of this litter lasts and lasts. Plastic bags take up to 20 years to degrade. Orange and banana peels can take a couple of years. Plastic and glass may last forever.
Our Stop the Drop campaign tackles the litter and fly-tipping problem that is despoiling our beautiful countryside. It’s headed by CPRE's President and author Bill Bryson, a passionate anti-litter campaigner and champion of the countryside.
It’s costing taxpayers over half a billion a year to clear the streets of England – let alone parks and other public spaces. Each fly-tipping incident costs the public purse around £72 a minute.
The boom in litter means a boom in the rat population too. There are now 60 million rats in the UK: almost as many as human beings. But over 69,000 other animals a year are killed or injured by cigarette butts, plastic bags and other plastic rubbish. It’s estimated that every year over a million seabirds and 100,000 turtles and sea mammals die of litter related causes.