Packaging littered on 64% of streets in Wales

Our independent report has revealed that ‘on-the-go’ food and drink packaging litter was found on 64.2% of streets across the country in 2021-22.

‘How Clean Are Our Streets? is the first report of its kind since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It brings together results from thousands of street cleanliness surveys to give a ‘snapshot’ of litter and other environmental quality issues.

Among types of packaging recorded, litter from confectionery, including sweet wrappers and crisp packets, was found on nearly half of streets. Drinks litter remained at pre-pandemic levels and was found on 44% streets.

Strengthening the case for EPR

Like many environmental charities, including our counterparts in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, we believe the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the UK could be a game-changer in eliminating packaging litter and waste.

An EPR scheme would require packaging producers to pay for the treatment or disposal of their goods. This is intended to encourage producers to reduce waste and promote more sustainable product design. As is the case with many other European countries, the current proposals also suggest that the costs of littering should be covered.

The prevalence of littered packaging across Wales further strengthens the case for EPR. The responsibility for tackling litter does not rest solely with local authorities and the financial burden on the public purse must be reduced. We know last year’s public consultation on EPR received strong support. The proposed scheme has the potential to transform the way the private sector supports street cleansing, community action and litter prevention activities.

Lesley Jones
Chief Executive for Keep Wales Tidy

There are no excuses for littering and we want to ensure everyone takes responsibility for disposing of their waste properly. We continue to work with organisations like Keep Wales Tidy to stop it from happening in the first place so everyone can enjoy our communities and the fantastic scenery Wales has to offer. We agree with the principles of an EPR scheme and will make an announcement in due course.

Lee Waters
Deputy Minister for Climate Change

Other headline results from the How Clean Are Our Streets? report include:

  • Litter dropped by pedestrians remains the most common source.
  • Smoking litter is the most common type of litter, found on 74.6% of streets.
  • PPE litter was included in the street cleanliness surveys for the first time. Masks were found on 8% of streets (approximately 10,700 littered masks).
  • The presence of alcoholic drink bottles and cans was also recorded for the first time and found on 15.5% of streets.
  • Dog fouling was recorded on 8% of streets – the lowest figure since street cleanliness surveys began in 2007-08.

For more details, including the survey methodology, visit our Policy and Research pages.

Clean streets matter

The street cleanliness surveys were carried out as part of Caru Cymru (the Welsh word meaning ‘Love Wales’) – our biggest ever initiative to eradicate litter and waste.

The survey results will help inform campaigns we’ll be running with local authorities over the coming year. These will include a large-scale campaign to tackle roadside litter and trialing innovative solutions to tackle fast-food litter and single-use plastic.

To find out how you can join the Caru Cymru movement, head to our hub. Make sure to register a Spring Clean Cymru event – clean-ups will be taking place across the country from 25 March to 11 April!

How Clean Are Our Streets? 2021-22

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