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Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL14656, tabled on 25 March 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of progress towards (1) reducing litter, and (2) reducing litter in (a) the countryside, and (b) on the seashore.

Answered on

12 April 2021

We published the Litter Strategy for England in April 2017, setting out our aim to deliver a substantial reduction in litter and littering within a generation. Annual reports of progress with delivery of the Litter Strategy can be found at gov.uk.

We have also published a “litter dashboard” which explains the Government’s approach to understanding the extent of litter and littering in England. The dashboard is available at gov.uk.

The latest Litter Strategy annual report and litter dashboard have been delayed due the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our latest study of litter composition in the UK, carried out by Keep Britain Tidy, is attached.

There has been an increase in number of visitors accessing the countryside since lockdown restrictions were first introduced last year. We know that people’s health, wellbeing and resilience can be improved and strengthened by spending time in the natural environment. We are clear, however, that everyone should follow the recently updated Countryside Code, which is available on gov.uk. A key part of government strategy is to get clear and consistent messages to the media, which highlight the problem and promote better behaviour in the countryside and encourage a partnership response.

In response to COVID-19, Defra has developed a ‘Respect the Outdoors’ campaign to encourage people to follow the Countryside Code and to highlight the impacts of littering. We also supported, and provided funding for, Keep Britain Tidy’s Love Parks campaign, which encouraged people to treat our parks with respect. Preliminary evaluation of these campaigns indicates that they had a positive influence on the target audience’s intended disposal of PPE litter, with anecdotal reports from local authorities that the intervention resulted in a markedly beneficial outcome.

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing the marine environment today with plastic pollution found on coastlines accounting for 5% of the plastic that litters the ocean, according to EUNOMIA. Defra funds the Marine Conservation Society to record litter from sections of our coast which helps us to monitor the levels and trends of plastic pollution across several years. As the majority of ocean plastic pollution originates on land our efforts have focussed on preventing plastic entering the ocean in the first place.