Presented and produced by Chris Ledgard and broadcast on Wednesday 23rd March, the BBC Radio 4 program “Costing the Earth” looked at different ways of stopping people from dropping litter and therefore of making people behave better.
It explained that the UK government announced in December 2015 that England is going to get a new national litter strategy, although there is no news yet as to when it might appear. Scotland, however, it said already has a national litter strategy, with a three pronged approach: information, infrastructure and enforcement. It then went on to look at a variety of different ways of trying to stop people dropping litter, and asked how do you get the message across regarding not littering. They asked “what works best – carrot or stick; humour or tugging at the heart strings with pictures of hedgehogs?”
The work that Kingdom’s Environmental Protection Division does was portrayed as the stick, and around half of the program was devoted to it. This included interviews with some smokers in Wolverhampton who talked about the process and effect of having been fined £75 by Kingdom officers, who provide Environmental Protection Services on behalf of Wolverhampton Council, and interviews with Kingdom officers Pav Singh and Lee Pettinger who explained what they do and how people react to it.
Kingdom’s Business Manager John Dunne was also interviewed by the program. As the presenter explained, Kingdom now provides Environmental Protection services to 28 councils in England and Wales, and that number is still growing. John explained that in the last 12 months Kingdom have taken on 13 new local authorities, and have changed what is going on in a lot of town and city centres.
John explained that Wirral Council, where Kingdom provides Environmental Protection Services, had issued 90 fixed penalty notices in the five years before Kingdom came on board, and by their second day on the job they had issued 139, and issued 1,176 in the first month. John explained: “I live on the Wirral myself and since taking the contract on with Wirral Council I’ve seen how clean the area’s gone because we are a massive deterrent.”
The program said of the service Kingdom provides: “For the council there is virtually no financial risk. In Wolverhampton for every £75 fine issued, Kingdom keeps £40 to run the scheme and make its profit and £35 goes to the council.” The councillor responsible for the Environment in Wolverhampton, Steve Evans, explained that the council reinvests that £35 into a “cleaner, greener, better Wolverhampton – that means better campaigns, better education amongst school children, better signage and it means we can tackle littering and dog fouling on a much wider scale.”
The program also considered other varied ways of tackling litter. Writer and radio storyteller David Sedaris, who had previously lived in Normandy before moving to the UK, could not believe the amount of rubbish that was everywhere he first moved to the UK. Frustrated with the amount of litter everywhere and the lack of action being taken to do something about it, he ended up going out and about where he lives in West Sussex each day for between 4-9 hours per day to pick up “tonnes and tonnes” of rubbish himself. He quite rightly asked why people who buy lottery tickets and don’t win feel the need to then rip them into 16 pieces and throw them on the ground, and spoke about the amount of polystyrene takeaway trays he had found with human excrement in them and bottles filled with urine. He asked why people like him who pick up rubbish are considered crazy rather than the people who drop the litter in the first place.
The program also heard from naturalist Chris Packham who had taken photos for a campaign by Keep Britain Tidy of animals surrounded by or wearing pieces of rubbish, heard about the history of and the work done by Keep Britain Tidy, including the recent Clean for the Queen Campaign, and looked at a famous campaign in Texas (Don’t Mess With Texas) in the 1980s. It looked at how clean Switzerland is, and how they manage to stay so clean (it doesn’t come naturally – teams of “litter ambassadors” is the surprising reason behind Switzerland’s cleanliness apparently!)
For anyone interested in the issue of littering and the environment in general the program is well worth a listen to. It can be heard again by going to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0742d31. If you just want to hear the part of the program that involves Kingdom then start listening at 17 minutes and 50 seconds.
Kingdom's high profile, specialist enforcement teams aim to reduce anti–social behaviour and make the UK’s streets and public areas cleaner, safer and greener. Led by experts with an ex-police and military background, Kingdom’s specialist teams deliver over 130,000 Environmental Protection hours per annum on behalf of Local Authorities across the UK. They issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to offenders who are seen breaking the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in streets, parks and open spaces, therefore successfully reducing anti-social behaviour.
Kingdom’s Environmental Protection Division tackles street litter, dog fouling and control orders, commercial and residential waste and waste disposal checks, smoking in prohibited areas, the illegal distribution of free material, criminal damage, graffiti, fly tipping and posting. To find out more about Kingdom’s Environmental Protection service, please call 0845 051 7702 or visit http://www.kingdom.co.uk/services/environmental-protection/.