A new survey carried out by Keep Wales Tidy has revealed the staggering cost of roadside litter in Wales.

Roadside litter is difficult and often dangerous to clear, and represents a significant cost to the taxpayer. The estimated cost of collecting and disposing of the litter is around £3.5 million a year. However, this figure does not include the additional economic impact of road closures and traffic congestion – both inevitable results of trying to clean-up these areas.

Keep Wales Tidy’s all Wales survey on roadside litter is the first of its kind and involved every local authority as well as both Trunk Road Agencies in Wales. 90% of those surveyed said they thought that plastic drinks bottles are the most common litter type found on our roadsides, followed closely by fast food packaging (85%).

Many of those surveyed suggested that legislation should be changed to ensure littering from vehicles is on a par with other driving offences which places the burden of proof on the driver.  This has recently been introduced through the ASBCP Act (2014) in England but does not extend to Wales.

Colin Smith, Operational Manager at Vale of Glamorgan Council, explains the impact of roadside litter has on his local authority:

Littering is a crime and people who discard litter from cars at the roadside should be aware that is expensive and hazardous to collect it and it is an unnecessary cost to the taxpayer that could be better spent on other services. Car litter unfortunately has become one of our biggest problems and the Council will be targeting this offence to prevent the visual impact litter is having on our environment and the detrimental effect it has on wildlife. Our message is simple, take your litter home and dispose of it responsibly through your normal household waste collection service or face the possibility of a £75 fixed penalty notice.

Keep Wales Tidy’s roadside litter report looks at how the issue has been tackled around the world and outlines a number of recommendations. These include greater collaboration with businesses and driving associations, ‘adopt a road’ schemes, as well as targeted anti-litter campaigns.

Jemma Bere, Policy Manager for Keep Wales Tidy said:

Litter is a blight on our streets and communities and costs us dearly, whether environmentally, economically or socially, the impacts are far-reaching. All litter is an avoidable problem and education, enforcement, engagement and policy and legislation all have a part to play. However, roadside litter is more complex in nature and campaigns require careful thought and targeting. We are currently exploring options with Welsh Government and local authorities, and will be trialling some solutions in the near future.

Read the full report 'Tackling Litter on our Roads'

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