Behavior Change
McDonald's, Wrigley's Among Companies Behind 'Litter Manifesto' Calling for Strategy to Clean Up UK

A coalition of British NGOs and businesses is collaborating on a call for concerted action to curb littering. In a letter to the Guardian, leaders from national companies such as the British Soft Drinks Association and British Plastics Association, as well as global brands McDonald’s and Wrigley’s, are urging the government to develop a comprehensive anti-littering plan.

The so-called “Litter Manifesto,” organized by the charity Hubbub, begins:

“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.”

The letter calls for the government to provide funding for a national strategy on littering, and for collaborative action to “raise litter up the agenda.” It cites the successful anti-littering campaign, “Don’t Mess with Texas,” as an example of creating community spirit and youth engagement around litter reduction.

Howard Gray, head of sustainability and distribution at McDonald’s, commented on his company’s participation: “The majority of our customers dispose of rubbish responsibly, but we recognized that [it is] the minority who … create problems for the community.”

The Guardian reports a new poll showing the British public believes littering is as socially unacceptable as drunk driving, with 86 percent agreeing it is “a disgusting habit.” But the public also perceives more people to drop litter now than 10 years ago.

Hubbub, the charity behind the “manifesto,” regularly organizes activities and installations to influence consumer behavior around sustainability. Trewin Restorisk, Hubbub founder and chief executive, commented on this approach:

“Littering affects us all — making our local spaces dirtier, less welcoming, and encouraging anti-social behaviour — and it’s up to all of us to take action to tackle it. We have found the best new approaches from around the world and are launching a series of interactive installations throughout the summer to engage the public, raise awareness of littering and to change people’s behaviour.”

The anti-littering manifesto comes as Britain struggles to combat related environmental problems: Last month, UK non-profit Deliver Change launched a campaign called “Let’s make air pollution visible,” which aims to bring together businesses, policy makers and local groups to solve the problem of air pollution in the UK. And last week, a study named Britain the worst-performing country in Europe in terms of food waste, while its premier waste-reduction charity, WRAP, suffered significant funding cuts.


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