Changing the public’s littering behaviour – Villiers Street campaign shows it can be done
Walk between Charing Cross and Embankment and you will find yourself on Villiers Street, the second busiest pedestrian thoroughfare in London. With most of the leading foodservice retailers either in this street or within a few seconds of it, together with a number of independents and a supermarket devoted to food to go, a huge amount of food and drink is consumed on this street.
Hubbub, the behaviour change charity, in conjunction with Westminster City Council, has for the last six months run an intensive litter campaign called ‘Neat Streets’. Supported financially by some of the foodservice retailers, INCPEN and the Packaging Federation (the FPA is a member of both), Hubbub has drawn upon the most successful litter campaigns throughout the world and implemented a series of activities and installed some unique bins and litter collection devices.
With research conducted pre and post campaign by Keep Britain Tidy it is terrific to report a reduction in litter of 26% with an even larger fall in afternoons over the campaign period of 51%.
Hubbub has done an incredible job in both raising the funds for the campaign and then implementing it so well. They have demonstrated that with a solid strategy, creative solutions and sustained activity litter can be beaten.
Two months ago the FPA sent a letter to Defra Minister Rory Stewart and to his equivalent at the Department of Communities and Local Government signed by 25 organisations requesting the Government establish an Advisory Committee for Litter. At the recent Plastics 2020 House of Commons reception and the recent All Party Parliamentary Group for Packaging session at which the Hubbub results were announced, the Minister made the point that litter is due to public behaviour and not packaging. He also referred to establishing a litter task force in January 2016 which would include industry representatives. These are two very significant steps which we commend.
The Villiers Street experiment demonstrates something can be done to reduce litter and that business is willing to play a key part in beating it. We look to the Government to provide much needed leadership and the setting up of an Advisory Committee or equivalent to act as a forum to bring all the UK litter groups together with business.
We are pleased that Hubbub has announced three further Neat Streets with two in England outside London and one in Scotland. We would urge FPA members to get behind the Neat Street campaigns. While packaging producers are not responsible for litter there are many organisations that wish to impose swinging levies on various types of foodservice packaging and would like to constrain our market. The recent charge on carrier bags was in the name of litter. Foodservice retailers are providing financial backing for the Neat Streets campaign and the time has come for foodservice packaging to do likewise.
Let’s help eradicate litter before litter eradicates your industry.
PS. Trewin Restorick, Hubbub’s CEO, is speaking at the FPA Seminar on 21 January in Solihull, sharing a platform with Jeremy Paxman (as Patron of Clean Up Britain), Sue Kinsey from the Marine Conservation Society and Derek Robertson, CEO of Keep Scotland Beautiful. Please do take this opportunity to hear more about Neat Streets and indeed to hear more from four of the leading UK’s litter organisations and book your places now.