Litter comes in all shapes and sizes – bottles, bags and even much bigger items. It clutters up our streets and public spaces, but it’s more than just an eyesore. Litter can cause serious problems for wildlife, motorists and people in their homes. How do we stop it? Raising awareness is a potential way to prevent the problem, with litter picking schemes at the other end of the spectrum. But there’s also a role for technology to play. This post looks at the Litter Innovation Fund and how it could help.
The cost of litter
According to the 2005 Symphony Environmental Study, the UK drops over two million pieces of litter each day. This includes everything from cigarette butts and food wrappers to old car tires. If it’s left, it makes the streets look a mess and attracts vermin.
When the wind and rain comes, it moves this litter from the streets to natural habitats and water sources. In the water, litter can cause contamination, affect turbidity, clog drains and eventually cause flooding.
That’s not even mentioning the effect on wildlife. Animals can get stuck in plastic rings used to hold together cans, cut by the cans themselves, and can even be harmed by ingesting litter that makes its way into their habitat. Clearly, litter it poses a number of problems, which is why around a billion pounds are spent each year trying to rid the streets of litter.
Not all solutions are as straightforward as litter picking, however, and sometimes it takes a bit of ‘thinking outside the box’ to really tackle to problem. With this in mind, the government has launched the Litter Innovation Fund to support new and innovative approaches to litter. The fund amounts to £450,000, which has been set aside to help authorities, charities, businesses and community groups create pioneering solutions for litter.
Like what? It could be anything from behavioural research to new technology. Defra has suggested things like smart bins which alert collectors when they are full. It would reduce the amount of people littering simply because their nearest bin is full, as well as litter falling out of full bins and spreading. Until 17th November 2017, candidates can apply for up to £10,000 of this funding, with £45,000 set aside exclusively for projects aiming to tackle marine littering.