It is estimated that 2 million pieces of litter are dropped daily across the UK; a shocking statistic when you consider the size of our island and the number of people who must be dropping that litter.
Litter is unsightly, but that isn’t the only issue; it is also terrible for the environment.
Being a crime, littering can be reported in the UK so, in this blog post, we will explore what litter is, what the fine is for dropping it, and how you can report incidents of littering in your local area.
Firstly, let’s begin with the basics.
What is litter?
Litter is any item that is dropped in public, in open spaces, or on the highway.
Litter can be many things, but the most commonly littered items include food and drink packaging, food, cigarette butts, and chewing gum.
Examples of food and drink packaging are plastic bottles, cardboard containers, aluminium cans, glass bottles, paper bags, and plastic bags.
Items dropped on private land are, unfortunately, the responsibility of the landowner or occupier to clear up.
As litter dropped in public is the responsibility of local authorities to clear up, they have powers available to them to tackle litter-related issues.
These powers include Fixed Penalty Notices for individuals and also notices for businesses, landowners, and duty bodies, that compel them to clear litter as well as prevent its reoccurrence.
Why is litter terrible for the environment?
Litter is bad for the environment as it pollutes the planet.
Left to its own devices, litter often leaches toxic chemicals into the ground and nearby water sources, entering the human food chain.
Individual litter types present unique additional problems — such as plastic which breaks down into microplastics, enabling further issues regarding wildlife, marine life, and human life.
We wrote a blog post about how litter can harm wildlife, so you might like to read that for further information on the topic.
If you’re interested in plastics in particular, then look at our blog post entitled, ‘Why is plastic bad for the planet?’
What is the fine for dropping litter in the UK?
Those who drop litter in the UK can be fined up to £80 or face prosecution in court. In cases of prosecution, the fine could increase to £2,500.
Each local authority chooses how much the fine should be for littering, so one local council may issue a fine for £50, while another will issue a fine for £80.
Fly-tipping is the littering of larger items such as household appliances or construction site materials. The penalties for fly-tipping are a fine of up to £20,000 and six months’ imprisonment.
However, if the case goes to the Crown Court, the fine is unlimited, and individuals could be imprisoned for two years for fly-tipping general waste or five years for hazardous waste.
In addition to the above, the driver and owner of a vehicle used for fly-tipping can also be prosecuted. The vehicle can be seized, too.
How to report littering in your area
Each local authority has a different method for the reporting of individuals who drop litter, so we’ll outline the methods of those councils within our area of coverage below.
For example, you might witness someone littering from their car window or dropping litter while picnicking in public.
Some local councils only want you to report sightings of the litter itself.
Check your local authority below for more information; the areas are listed in alphabetical order.
How to report littering in Barnsley
You can report a litter problem online to Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
How to report littering in Bradford
To report litter in Bradford, you can contact the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.
You can report littering from a vehicle and general littering via an online form, but please note you will need to log in to do so.
How to report littering in Chesterfield
If you spot someone littering in Chesterfield or come across a large amount of litter, you can report it online to Chesterfield Borough Council.
Likewise, fly-tipping in Chesterfield can be reported here.
How to report littering in Halifax
Calderdale Council encourages residents to report litter via an online form if they can’t clear it up themselves.
However, it would appear that residents are unable to report a sighting of someone littering as a crime to the council.
How to report littering in Harrogate
You can report litter to Harrogate Borough Council’s street cleaning team via an online form; however, this is a service for it to be removed, rather than a method for you to report a crime of littering.
How to report littering in Huddersfield or Dewsbury
Kirklees Council looks after Huddersfield and Dewsbury and, while residents are seemingly unable to report litter, they can report incidents of fly-tipping online.
How to report littering in Hull
You can report littering in Hull to Hull City Council via an online form.
If you provide enough information and your details, they may issue a Fixed Penalty Notice to the offender.
How to report littering in Leeds
If you witness littering in Leeds — from a car or otherwise — you can report it to Leeds City Council via a form on their website.
Please note that you will need to supply your details and the details of the person who littered (such as the car registration number) for a Fixed Penalty Notice to be issued.
If you don’t have the individual’s details and the litter is a small amount, LCC asks that you pick it up yourself and place it in the nearest bin instead of contacting them via the online form.
How to report littering in Scarborough
If you spot a litter problem in Scarborough, you can report it to Scarborough Borough Council online.
Fly-tipping can be reported here.
How to report littering in Scunthorpe
Scunthorpe falls under North Lincolnshire Council, and they ask that you report sightings of excessive litter via their online form.
How to report littering in Selby
Selby District Council encourages the reporting of individuals who drop litter in its area, and residents can quickly and easily report someone via an online form.
Include as much detail as possible for the council to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice to the offender.
How to report littering in Sheffield
Sheffield City Council facilitates the reporting of litter and fly-tipping via its website.
How to report littering in Wakefield or Castleford
Wakefield Metropolitan District Council offers an online form for residents to request litter clearing but not to report the crime of littering.
How to report littering in York
City of York Council has an online form for the reporting of street cleaning issues such as littering; residents can easily report fly-tipping incidents online too.
As you can see above, some councils accept reports of excessive litter, and some are keen for you to report sightings of littering in action, so take a look at your local authority’s website to find out more.
If your local council only wants to hear from you for litter sightings, it might be quicker and cheaper for you to pick it up yourself; however, remain cautious and avoid and report all dangerous litter.
If litter is a persistent problem in your area, you may feel compelled to organise a litter pick — in which case, our blog post on how to organise a litter pick could come in handy.
If you require equipment for your litter pick, you can find out where to access free equipment here.