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UK Lockdown Litter Problem

20th April 2020

At a time when most of us are not able to go out, litter is still causing a big problem.

Protective gloves and face masks, also known as PPE, are being littered by those who are out and about. Though PPE can be used to keep us safe during the pandemic, it is vital that it is disposed of correctly, not just for the environment, but also to stop the spread of infections.

Allison Ogden-Newton, the chief executive of the charity Keep Britain Tidy highlighted the severity of the issue when stating:
“There isn’t the same level of resource to clear up and it’s incredibly disappointing that people are taking advantage of the situation by leaving their litter behind which is sitting there waiting for us to clear up when this is all over. The whole point is PPE protects you against transmitting or receiving infection but it’s absolutely vital that when you’re finished using it, you dispose of it in a sanitary manner.”

While a lot of work has been done to highlight the dangers of single use plastics, many have failed to associate those with the plastic gloves that are being used and dumped, and how this in turn will have an effect on the environment.

With so many recycling centres and charity shops currently closed there is also a large increase in fly-tipping as people declutter their homes. Allison Ogden-Newton summed up the issue with this comment:
“Britain is becoming a country divided, with more people than ever worrying about the environment and waste and yet equally a growing number of people habitually dumping their rubbish, wrecking that same environment others wish to protect.”
Keep Britain Tidy has urged everyone using PPE to dispose of it as they would their regular litter to prevent contributing to the spread of infection and damage to the environment and to hold on to those unwanted items until shops and recycling centres can reopen.