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Litter is no small problem

Landscape Crisps Cigarette Sign
The giant crisp packet and cigarette butt installed at Hylands as part of a litter awareness campaign

Giant sculptures of litter have arrived in Chelmsford’s Hylands Estate. The six-foot-high fibreglass statues depict a cigarette butt and an empty crisp packet. They are part of an anti-litter campaign to highlight that ‘litter is no small problem’.

Creating awareness about littering

Love Your Chelmsford, with the Community Protection team at Chelmsford City Council, jointly launched the litter awareness campaign in August. Litter is a criminal offence. People can be fined £500 for littering offences and £1,000 for fly-tipping. The campaign aims to remind people of their responsibilities when it comes to litter and how we can all play a part in looking after our local environment.

The most frequently littered items include smoking related litter (cigarettes and vapes), confectionary wrappers, fast-food packaging, drinks cans and bottles.

Littered plastic items are very harmful to the natural world, as they take hundreds of years to breakdown whilst polluting local waterways, oceans and being mistaken for a food source by wildlife.

People also often wrongly assume cigarette butts are not litter, but it’s still a criminal offence to throw them on the ground.

There are over 500 litter bins in Chelmsford, so there is no excuse not to place waste items in a bin.

The giant litter sculptures take a tour of Chelmsford

To raise awareness of how litter is no small problem, giant sculptures of the most frequently littered items are being placed around Chelmsford in prominent locations.

The six-foot-high crisp packet and cigarette butt have first been placed on the Hylands Estate. An oversized drink can will follow in another location. The sculptures will then be going on a tour around Chelmsford, and are hoped to serve as a reminder to those that see them that all littering is a crime, no matter how big or small.

Cllr Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for a Greener and Safer Chelmsford, is keen for people to fully understand the impact of litter on our city and across the district:

“We must treat litter seriously. It negatively impacts wildlife, our local waterways, and the general environment. It’s a blight on our communities. Plastics can take hundreds of years to break down, and smoking related litter including cigarette butts and vapes are now the top littered items. We must take responsibility for our own rubbish, taking it home with us if there isn’t a bin available. Littering is a criminal offence, and it’s a shame that in 2023 we need to keep reminding people of this.”

Cllr Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for a Greener and Safer Chelmsford

Prizes won in litter-themed poetry competition

To help in the fight against litter, Love Your Chelmsford ran a poetry competition for young people aged 4-16. Budding poets were asked to test their creative writing skills by writing a poem about how litter impacts Chelmsford and the wider environment. The themes of recycling, reusing and reducing waste were encouraged to be included.

We had some fantastic entries to the competition and three winners have now been chosen:

🥇 Haneefah (aged 11)
🥈 Darcy (aged 11)
🥉Tully (aged 6)

Haneefah has won a family ticket to this year’s pantomime showing of Jack and the Beanstalk at @Chelmsford Theatre. Darcy and Tully have won family tickets to Enlightened Hylands✨🌟 Enjoy your prizes!

How people can help in the fight against litter

Use bins! There are over 500 bins in Chelmsford, so people are never far away from one. However, if there happens to not be a bin nearby, then people should take responsibility for taking their rubbish home and disposing of it there. There are also a number of ‘on-the-go’ recycling bins for the public to dispose of recyclable items when they’re out and about. Before chucking waste in a regular bin, check if there are on-the-go recycling facilities nearby. These are available in the city centre and popular parks.  

People can also help by reducing or choosing alternatives to plastics (when it’s reasonable to do so), by carrying a reusable bottle, and by recycling plastic waste items.

Studies show that the less litter there is in an area, the less likely it is for others to litter themselves. The Environmental Sustainability team for Love Your Chelmsford run a litter picking volunteer programme for residents, schools, businesses, and community groups. They loan out complete kits of litter picking equipment for free, for a maximum of 14 days at a time. These kits include an adult or child size litter picker, gloves, hi-vis waistcoat, and branded heavy-duty bin bags. Equipment is available to collect from Freighter House, Drovers Way, Springfield. They also occasionally hold community volunteering days, which anyone is welcome to attend. Look out for upcoming events on the Love Your Chelmsford Facebook page.

Follow Love Your Chelmsford on Facebook and Instagram for updates on the litter awareness campaign and information on how to help create a greener Chelmsford.

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Charlotte Maltby
Charlotte Maltby

Charlotte writes about the environment, parks, recycling, business, planning, public realm and democratic services.