CPRE London – Litter, Waste and Recycling in Parks

Litter, Waste and Recycling

Beyond litter picking: what can your group do to reduce litter and rubbish and increase recycling? 

Dear parks friends!

At the September 2018 meeting of the LFGN we discussed litter, recycling and bins in parks and here are all the great ideas people put forward for things friends groups can do to reduce waste and litter and increase recycling. Please email alice@cprelondon.org.uk if you would like to add to this list!

The ability for visitors to fill water bottles would help reduce the number of plastic bottles that are thrown away. Some Boroughs have difficulty using bins that can sort the recycling as the wrong sort of rubbish is put in them. Some parks allow BBQs but this creates litter problems and damage to grass from hot BBQs. Some parks are removing are removing litter bins and encouraging visitors to take their litter home.

The Royal Parks have been able to achieve a 35% recycling rate for the rubbish left in their parks.

Recycling in Royal Parks

Keep Britain Tidy

Refill London

Ideas for tackling litter and waste!

  • Polite notices on bins re: bagged rubbish e.g. “THANK YOU for bagging your rubbish BUT PLEASE do not leave bags by the bin – PLEASE take it home with you and dispose in your home bin when these bins are full. This is because bags left beside bins frequently cause litter because foxes and other wildlife pull the bags apart at night. PLEASE ALSO HELP OUR ENVIRONMENT BY RECYCLING YOUR CANS AND BOTTLES AT HOME.”
  • Install water fountain/s with a water bottle refill nozzle. Make them visible. Use communications / posters to explain that you are trying to reduce waste and littering and want to encourage people to refill their bottles.
  • Zero waste events  – like the Garden Party in Waltham Forest where water could easily be refilled from standpipes, deposits were used for drinks containers (i.e. there were no disposable plastic beer glasses) et
  • Parks service manages waste collection, rather than the waste service – this can be a more effective way of keeping the park free from litter, reducing issues with waste trucks and getting timing right etc.
  • Remove bins altogether – Trials have been done and this approach works in some places. But it doesn’t work in others!  Signs are of course needed saying ‘please take your rubbish away with you’
  • A big barometer / thermometer – showing how much it costs to dispose of rubbish from the park and say what else the money could be used for (this is being trialled by Keep Britain Tidy with Parks for London) and use signs to encourage people to create less rubbish and remove it / not litter
  • Ban disposable BBQs – Hackney council allows BBQs in London Fields but has now banned disposables because of the damage they cause and the cost of the clean up
  • Community Pay Back schemes where light criminals do community service picking litter from parks
  • Burp bins – bins that burp when you put rubbish in, to encourage kids
  • Solar powered crushing bins – can crush the litter deposited in them which means they can hold much more litter than traditional bins.
  • Slot bins – See Royal Parks report on website on slot bins which helped increase recycling and reduce contamination in park recycling bins
  • Other ideas and issues raised at the network meeting
    • Suggestion that park cafes can help support with communications or even e.g. give out recycling sacks or set out recycling bins on a busy
    • Cigarette litter can be a big issue and tends to be treated separately because smokers who drop their butts don’t necessarily litter more generally
    • Friends groups also pointed to an increase in e-cigarette vial litter and suggested a ban in parks. Others suggested a communications / awareness campaign might be more realistic.
    • Friends groups (via the borough forum if there is one) and the borough officers and contractors where applicable – should meet to discuss options & the contribution Friends Groups can make.
    • Friends Groups should work with the council to find ways to reduce the huge cost of clearing up parks after a sunny weekend.
    • Problems with dog mess and even human waste are best resolved with adequate dog mess bins for the former and provision of toilets for the latter.

    Many of your groups litter pick, so you’ll be familiar with how much is recyclable. The picture above shows cans collected in a recent Friends of Bow Back River litter pick which was organised as part of CPRE’s Green Clean with the support of CPRE London. We separated and weighed all the litter collected to show how much litter is recyclable drinks containers.

    Was this useful? If so, are there are other subjects it would be useful to gather ideas on? Let me know at alice@cprelondon.org.uk.

    Alice Roberts, CPRE London
    Dave Morris, LFGN
    LFGN has teamed up with CPRE London to bring more support to London’s friends of parks groups.

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