Britain’s litterbugs should be sent on awareness courses

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Just as speeding drivers can avoid prosecution by attending a speeding awareness course, the Policy Exchange think tank wants litter offenders to be taught about the damage they cause.

It claims that littering has increased by 500 per cent since the 1960s and costs the country £1billion. Around 730million items are littered each year, with roadside waste killing approximately 3.2million shrews, moles and mice.

The minimum on-the-spot fine for littering should go up from £65 to £195, the report argues, with the maximum fine increasing from £150 to £450. It makes the case that if litter awareness courses are priced between £80 to £120, many people will opt to go on one rather than pay a punishing fine.

The report calls for litter bins to be incorporated into bus stops, benches and lampposts.

It also pushes for zero VAT on biodegradable plant-based chewing gum. Today, it states, biodegradable gum is “roughly three times more expensive than single use plastic chewing gum”.

A further demand is a ban on synthetic cigarette filters.

The report warns: “Synthetic cigarette filters do not biodegrade and can last up to fifteen years in the environment. The Government should ban synthetic filters, requiring cigarette manufacturers to switch back to pre-World War II methods of using cotton and wool.”

Under the proposals, a council league table would rank local authorities on how they use their powers to tackle litter, shaming those who fail to act.

A spokeswoman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Litter blights our communities, spoils our countryside, harms our wildlife, and taxpayers’ money is wasted cleaning it up.

“In recent years we have almost doubled the maximum on-the-spot fine for littering to £150 and councils have been empowered to introduce penalty charge notices to target owners of vehicles from which litter is thrown. We are also committed to introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers so people will be incentivised to recycle their bottles and cans rather than throw them away.”

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