The War on Litter: Packagings Gone Thrash

The War on Litter

What happens when packagings are disposed of? Often, they become litter and end up costing us millions of dollars. But now, there’s a war being fought.


Litter is a big concern of governments and environmental agents: its dangers and costs have been proven many times, but few have seemed to care. Earthtalk, in, put it like so:

[quote style=”boxed”]“Environmentalists consider litter a nasty side effect of our convenience-oriented disposable culture. Just to highlight the scope of the problem, California alone spends $28 million a year cleaning up and removing litter along its roadways. (…) One study found that 18 percent of litter ends up in rivers, streams and oceans.”[/quote]

Despite the evidence, people continue to litter without actually giving much thinking into it. But why so?

Littering Behaviour in America, a Keep America Beautiful study from 2009, found three reasons for it: personal choice, where people acted by instinct, without even considering the side effects; a magnetic effect of existing litter, where people scattered more where there was more litter at sight; and a lack of responsibility, often paired with a feeling of someone else taking care of it in the long run.

Other factors, such as the presence of proximity of garbage cans, also affected the tendency to litter the environment.

Many organisations, whether of national or local scope, have been trying to raise awareness. The Industry Council for Research on Packaging and the Environment, (INCPEN), recently backed the Hubbub Neat Streets project, where activists fight litter street by street. This time, they tackled the second busiest street in London: Villiers Street.

Quoting INCPEN:

[quote style=”boxed”]“There are lots of excellent anti-litter initiatives but no coordinated long-term programme. Litter is getting worse so it’s time for Government to take a strategic lead and make sure we all work together.”[/quote]

And maybe it is time. Many organisms, like Auntie Litter, have been providing a thoughtful education on litter prevention for more than 25 years. Back in Great Britain, a Litter Manifesto was recently signed, where many renowned figures stood together in a combined effort to bring this issue into public discussion.

Quoting the manifesto, (in a letter to The Guardian):

[quote style=”boxed”]“As a nation the UK spends approximately £1bn a year clearing up litter. The vast majority of people believe that dropping litter is unacceptable, yet levels of littering are at their worst levels for a decade. Littering affects us all – making our local spaces dirtier, less welcoming, and encouraging antisocial behaviour. Reducing litter is fundamentally a question of changing behaviour, and it is up to all of us to take action.”[/quote]

From McDonalds to Keep Britain Tidy, many different groups are funding the initiative. The Foodservice Packaging Association, (FPA), stressed the necessity to involve the British Government in a unified campaign:

[quote style=”boxed”]“There are many excellent campaigns taking place seeking to reduce the amount of littering in the UK. However, Government leadership is needed to help encourage a unified campaign as currently initiatives are fragmented.”[/quote]

Will the Government take the lead? We’ll have to see. In the meantime, the war continues.


Sponsored by Derprosa, leading brand in biaxially oriented polypropylene films for packaging.


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