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Why we’re mobilising our Green Cleaners

The Green Clean reverse vending machine in action The Green Clean reverse vending machine in action

The announcement in March 2018 that England would be getting a deposit return system was a game-changer. It took 10 years of dogged campaigning from so many organisations, but it marked the beginning of a new chapter - and a new fight – to get the best possible system for England.

That’s why, this September, we’re running an exciting series of Green Clean litter picks across the country: to clean up our countryside and green spaces and help us win the final stage of the campaign.

You only have to take one look at our country lanes and hedgerows, parks and town centres to know that drinks container litter is a huge problem. Not only is it unsightly, wasteful and a threat to wildlife, but much of it is washed into our streams, rivers and waterways, and eventually our oceans, where it threatens marine life globally.

A well-designed deposit system will go a long way to preventing this harmful blight on our natural world by providing a small, but effective, financial incentive to return the containers for recycling. Surely, that’s something everyone can get behind?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. We’re up against powerful vested interests in the packaging, waste management and drinks industries that don’t want to see a threat to their profits, or take financial responsibility for the waste they create.

The industry says that the scheme should be limited to smaller bottles – or ‘on-the-go’ containers, as they call them - and some even argue that only plastic bottles should be included, ignoring the huge amount of littered aluminium cans. Restricting the system to smaller containers will mean it will be dead before it even gets off the ground – confused consumers won’t use it, there will be little impact on litter, and we won’t get anywhere near the 97% recycling rates achieved by the world’s leading schemes.

We want to demonstrate that, so long as the deposit system the Government introduces is designed to collect all drinks containers – of all materials and sizes, harmful litter could soon be a thing of the past. So we’re mobilising our network of Green Cleaners to record the quantity and type of containers they find in a piece of ‘citizen science’. Litter webimage for blog The results of just an hour's litter picking in Lincolnshire.

Every Green Clean superstar will record the containers they find, and we’ll feed their evidence into the Government’s consultation to make sure it reflects the true scale of the problem, and counter industry arguments.

Following us in our clean-up tour of England will be a Green Clean reverse vending machine, just like the machines we’ll eventually be able to use as part of the national scheme.  

Volunteers will be able to dispose of, and receive cash for, each of the drinks containers they pick, giving people a feel for how the national system will work and highlighting how financial incentives can help to boost recycling.

Our first litter pick in Brigg, Lincolnshire, showed how badly we need an effective nationwide system. Our small group of volunteers collected 451 bottles and cans in just over an hour – from glass beer bottles to drinks cans and large 3-litre bottles of fizzy pop - and residents queued for their chance to turn litter into cash.

Litter is not just an environmental problem. It evokes so many emotions – from anger to despair, and creates real barriers between people and places, preventing us from enjoying and connecting with our beautiful countryside. But the good news is, through the collective effort of local people and communities, who either live in or simply love the countryside, we can banish bottles and cans from our fields, hedges and parks for good, and restore the wonderful power of an unspoilt rural landscape.

We want everyone across the country to get out and get involved with their nearest Green Clean event. Join us this September to help ready the countryside for the introduction of a deposit return system, and help transform it back to a beautiful, litter-free state.

Be part of the Green Clean

Sign up to your nearest litter pick here.

Through the collective effort of local people and communities, we can banish bottles and cans from our fields, hedges and parks for good, and restore the wonderful power of an unspoilt rural landscape.




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