Littering & the law
Although there is no legal definition of litter, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs guidelines suggests that the term "litter" is best used to describe anything that the general population inappropriately discards in public places. It consists of candy wrappers, drink bottles, cigarette ends, gum, apple cores, fast food packaging, register receipts, and little bags.
What happens in court?
If you are found to be littering or engaging in other environmental crimes, you will immediately receive a fixed penalty notice fee or fine. If you don't pay the fine, the matter will move on to court prosecution.
Cigarette-related litter, for instance, may result in a £150 Fixed Penalty Notice being issued to the offender. You risk going to court if you don't pay your fine within 14 days. You risk a criminal record and a fine of up to £2,500.
Police officers, PCSOs (where appointed), and approved individuals have the authority to take photos of those who have received a penalty notice outside of the police station. Those who have received a penalty notice may no longer successfully argue that they were not there when the offence occurred by being photographed.
Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, the local authority in England and Wales has the authority to issue a Public Spaces Protection Order for a specific location and use that order to forbid littering that is persistent or continuing, unreasonable, and has a negative impact on the quality of life of those who live in the area.
The distribution of free literature can also be regulated by local authorities to stop flyers, handouts, and brochures from ending up in the trash. Anyone who distributes free material without permission in a designated area under the EPA by a major litter authority—or causes someone else to—commits an offence.
A Fixed Penalty Notice cannot be appealed on any official grounds. This is because you effectively "pay off" your obligation to prosecution.
The most repulsive and abhorrent sort of trash on our streets is dog poop. According to our research, dog faeces is the topic that the public is most worried about.
Dog faeces are not only extremely disgusting, but also harmful. Although it is uncommon, contact with canine faeces can result in toxocariasis, a severe infection that can cause nausea, dizziness, asthma, blindness, or convulsions.
Given that there are an estimated 8 million dogs in the UK alone that produce more than 1,000 tonnes of waste every day, it is understandable why dog fouling is such an issue.
Even while the majority of dog owners are kind, responsible people, there are still those who fail to clean up after their pets.
A fixed penalty notice of up to £100 may be given to anyone who neglects to clean up after their dog. The owner or anyone in charge of the animal might be charged up to £1,000 if the matter goes to court.
According to the legislation, not having an appropriate bag or being uninformed that a dog has fouled is not a valid defence.
The council is responsible for getting rid of a pet if its owner doesn't clean up after it. Dog wardens are present in more than 90% of councils.
We have also made it clear to dog owners through our advertising that any trash can suffices for their pet's mess. Even while some councils do have specific dumpsters for dog faeces, any public bin will accept the garbage. There is no good reason to ignore it.
Land & beaches
For the purpose of cleaning up garbage on beaches, some municipalities have established agreements with other organisations, while others engage commercial companies or just rely on volunteer litter-picking. Cleaning beaches may also include the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Natural England.
The Marine Litter Action Network is a coalition of non-governmental organisations that cleans up trash from beaches. Beaches are typically included in the street sweeping schedule for districts with coastlines.
Some coastal district councils have a designated position holder who is in charge of beach-related issues. For instance, the Tendring District Council in Essex has a manager for the seafronts.
The disposal of deceased marine animals that have washed ashore is a particular problem, with expenses rising as specialised businesses are needed to remove these. This may be expensive; for instance, the disposal of a seal carcass requires two workers, raising the price for a single clearing to £350.
Dropping or leaving rubbish in public spaces in the UK is a criminal violation and that also applies to beaches as well. People who leave rubbish can face prosecution in court and can be fined up to £2,500 if convicted.
A fixed penalty notice for up to £80 can also be issued by those who are authorised to do so. Therefore, before returning home, be sure to take all of your trash with you if you're intending to visit the beach this bank holiday.
Illegally depositing any garbage onto a property that does not have a licence to accept it is what fly-tipping is.
Tipping a mattress, electrical equipment, or a bin bag full of trash on the street creates a neighbourhood annoyance and gives the area a run-down appearance. On a bigger scale, fly-tipping might entail the disposal of numerous truckloads of construction and demolition trash on various types of property.
Public safety may be at risk from unregulated, unlawful trash disposal, particularly if the garbage is poisonous or includes asbestos. The garbage that was deposited ran the risk of contaminating waterways and land.
Councils in England dealt with over a million instances of fly-tipping in 2016–17. Over £58 million was reportedly spent on this waste's clean-up.
Fly-tipping is a severe crime for which you may face legal action. Fly-tipping can be dealt with by the courts using a variety of methods, such as incarceration, astronomical penalties, and orders denying access to the vehicle that was used to perform the crime.
What you can do.
Don't litter. Use a bin for your garbage; if none are available, take your litter home.
Littering is permitted. People who leave trash behind risk fines or legal action. Authorised officials have the right to choose a fixed penalty fee of up to £150 instead of filing charges. The punishment may increase to £2,500 if the person is pursued and found guilty in court.
Report clusters of trash you notice in a public area to your local council. Give specifics on the kind, amount, and location of the litter. Some local councils establish "hotlines" for trash. If your council does not have a specific phone number to contact, the cleaning, environmental health, or technical services departments often handle reports of trash.
In the first case, get in touch with the authorities to see what they can do about getting the rubbish cleared if it has piled on private property.
If you are unsure about the impact or are interested in how plastic is made and how it is impacting the environment and humans, speak to a local professional, a lot of sources online can be untrustworthy and misleading.
Health & safety
Using evidence from the 1960s, Professor Richard Thompson OBE and his team revealed in 2004 that microplastic particles have accumulated in oceans and are now widespread.
The washing of synthetic textiles and clothing, used sandblasting pellets for boat hulls, sewage sludge used as fertiliser, the use of medications and drugs, atmospheric deposition, and larger plastics like water bottles are also sources of these microplastics.
Human health is severely impacted by plastic manufacturing and refinement. Communities along fencelines that are near to production facilities and the people who work there are particularly affected. In this research, the term "fenceline communities" refers to areas that are adversely affected by extractive sector infrastructure that extracts, processes, stores, and transports chemicals, poisons, and other hazardous materials. These communities are constantly at risk of chemical exposure, accidents or events, or even death.
According to the USEPA, air toxics, sometimes referred to as hazardous air pollutants, are categorised as pollutants when they are known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, or other severe detrimental impacts on both humans and the environment. The USEPA is obligated by the US Clean Air Act to control the emissions of 187 air pollutants.
For further reading: The Hidden Costs of Plastic Pollution