A litter pandemic

I am sure that most residents are disgusted and saddened at the tremendous increase in the amount of litter lining our streets, parks and open green spaces.

Fortunately, the Hunslet & Riverside councillors ordered over 60 new litter-bins before the Covid pandemic struck and many of them have been installed which has made some difference.

But much of this litter is thrown from cars as is evidenced by the amount of litter on the embankment of the M621 and which is the responsibility of the Government`s agency Highways England to collect.

It is clear to me that there are some people who will not alter their behaviour unless it hits their pockets. If there were a refundable deposit on bottles and cans then I estimate that over three quarters of litter would not be there.

When the 15p charge was levied for supermarket plastic bags, it cut down 85 per cent of them being collected for landfill or the incinerator or, indeed, discarded as litter.

In Germany shops must give a refund of 25 cents (equivalent of nearly 25 pence) for both glass and plastic bottles and cans and I have seen that inside German supermarkets there are special bottle and can banks which automatically refund either cash or a voucher for returned empties.

When my husband was a young lad, he and his pals used to attend Yorkshire County Cricket matches which, in those days, were crowded and also the Test Matches. He and his pals used to collect discarded bottles and even used to ask spectators, “Can we have your bottle please Mister?”

Sometimes, they were refused but more often than not were given a bottle so that they could claim the deposit at the Headingley Ground’s bar. This saved the spectator from either discarding it or queuing up to claim the deposit or carting it home.

After the match, the lads were paid a small amount by the cushion hire firm to collect the cushions which were hired to spectators. There was no deposit on the cushions so most were left on the seats.

Near to the Ground on St Michael’s Lane was a bakery. The lads used to call and ask, “Have you any stale buns Mister?” The retort was, “We never have stale buns!” but they were usually each given a fresh one to eat. Although sometimes the response was, “You have already been here you little beggars. Get off home!”

Looking back those young lads were doing a very good job recycling glass bottles and were attempting to recycle potential waste food albeit into their tummies. Deposits on drinks containers allowed them to have a great deal of fun and saved Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds City Council a great deal of money in litter collection.


This post was written by Cllr Elizabeth Nash

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One Reply to “A litter pandemic”

  1. Litter bins are all very well but who is going to teach people how to use them? Walk round any street or park and you will find litter just feet away from an empty bin, walking a couple of feet is just too much for some people it would seem. As a child I was taught never to drop litter in the street and it has stuck with me well into my sixties. If there is no bin nearby I will carry it with me until I find one or take it home instead. It is a pity that the same cannot be said for the people who leave empty beer cans strewn around Cross Flatts Park or their bottles smashed on the paths.

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