Bournemouth Council enlists drone technology to tackle littering

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council has partnered with environmental charity Hubbub and McDonald’s for a campaign that will use drone technology and AI to tackle littering in the local area during a busy summer period as lockdown restrictions ease.

droneThe ‘Leave only Footprints’ campaign will see intelligence gathered from drones identify and categorise individual pieces of litter to give insight into what types of litter is being dropped and where.

The results are expected to advise BCP Council on the best future placement of bins, street cleansing schedules and behaviour change campaigns required to encourage visitors to dispose of their litter responsibly.

The use of drone footage to support anti-littering strategies was developed by technology start-up Ellipsis Earth and was used in the Italian town of Sorrento last summer, where it helped local authorities reduce litter by 45 per cent and cigarette butt waste by 69 per cent.

The first drone flights in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole took place last week, whilst total lockdown restrictions were still in place, to map the current cleanliness levels of the local streets, parks and beaches.

A second audit is scheduled to take place in May, as BCP Council expects the public areas to become busier as the weather improves and further restrictions ease.

Results will then be compared and used to recommend a series of interventions designed to reduce litter, followed by a further survey which will take place later to assess the effectiveness of these actions.

BCP Council has committed £3.5 million to its summer readiness preparations, which will include the installation of extra large bins to deal with additional litter and putting in place more daily collections.

Manual crews are also expected to be on standby for frequent collections when tourist hotspots such as the promenade become busy.

Councillor Mark Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Cleansing and Waste, BCP Council added: “We are delighted to have been invited to participate in this national collaboration, at no cost to the council, which will enhance our plans to tackle the issue of litter across our three towns.”

“Litter is everyone’s responsibility. We will be very clear when we welcome responsible visitors to our resort, they should respect and protect our resort, behave reasonably and pick up after themselves.”

“The pilot we are intending to run with Hubbub and McDonald’s will enhance existing work, I’m really looking forward to seeing the project get underway and the results we can all benefit from.”