Resource Use

The ‘TripAdvisor’ for litter projects: website rates best practice for targeting trash

A new website aiming to showcase the best anti-litter campaigns from around the world has been launched today (6 July) to provide councils and businesses with ‘a source of inspiration to fight litter’.

The Neat Streets website was designed by Hubbub, an environmental charity that experiments with ways to interest the public in sustainability issues, and sponsored by the Industry Council for research on Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN).

The site allows users to add, view and rate anti-litter initiatives
According to Hubbub, there has been little collaboration and sharing of anti-litter campaigns despite the large amount of work done in the area.

So, instead of councils having to devise and pilot their own original initiatives, which Hubbub says increases the campaign costs to the taxpayer, the new website will act as a resource for interested organisations to use.

Trewin Restorick, Founder and CEO of Hubbub, said: “Why reinvent the wheel whilst there is much to be learnt from state-of-the-art campaigns already tried and tested? It is Hubbub’s ethos to give away ideas that have worked and share learnings, we want to provide a platform for others to do the same.

“The ambition is to create a ‘TripAdvisor’ type site where people will be able to build on the learnings that we have collated. Hopefully, it will become a place where good ideas can grow and be shared.”

The website includes a description of each project, its objective, statistics on the costs and impact, and currently has over 20 projects available for viewing and more can be submitted by organisations by filling in an online form.

A user rating system that will allow people to vote for their favourite projects is also included.

Jane Bickerstaffe, Director of INCPEN, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this important initiative. Littering is a worldwide problem, and one of the best ways of dealing with it is through creating greater awareness of the issue and providing education and advice on how to combat it.

“There are many different groups and organisations involved in anti-littering campaigns. We need to learn from each other’s experiences and share our findings in order to achieve the best results, and this website offers the ideal forum.”

Neat Streets initiatives

The website was created following Hubbub’s Neat Streets Campaign, which took place in Villiers Street in London between May and October 2015.

The project was designed as a ‘social experiment’ for testing a ‘catalogue of ideas’ for changing littering behaviour, and the organisation claimed it was successful in cutting litter by 26 per cent during its duration.

The Ballot Bin has been used around the UK and Europe
Neat Streets focused on simple, interactive campaigns such as a voting bin for cigarette butts, which involved pedestrians answering topical questions using their cigarette butts thereby reducing the amount dropped on the ground.

According to Hubbub’s post-project evaluation, the voting bin helped reduce cigarette litter by 18 per cent and the publicity generated by it led to Hubbub has producing the product on a large scale, selling units the UK and Europe.

The results of the project, however, have been called into question by outside observers, with Keep Britain Tidy, which produced a final evaluation of the project, pointing out that the 26 per cent reduction figure was based only on ground litter reduction during the final one-month period (October), and not all waste deposited on the street – meaning that the experiments did not account for seasonal fluctuations in overall levels of waste. The report read: ‘The conclusions that can be drawn from the litter counts about the impact of the project on litter are limited… It is not possible to definitely attribute this reduction in litter on the ground to any specific intervention, as many other variables, such as footfall and seasons affect the amount of litter present at any site throughout the year.’

Moreover, the final report criticised the lack of control sites and the potential confusion caused by running several initiatives at once, meaning ‘it is not possible to assess whether any particular project made a significant enough difference to support its replication elsewhere’. It also stated that even when the project was running, 70 per cent of cigarette butts were still littered, and the effect of the campaign was not sustained after the voting bins were removed, returning to a littering rate of 86 per cent.

Nonetheless, initiatives from the London Neat Streets campaign have been used in similar projects in Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham, and the new Neat Streets website will now make the details of such campaigns freely available along with other projects from around the world.

For more information visit the Neat Streets website.