MP Damian Hinds: We can all play our part in beating litter scourge

Thursday 21st April 2022 6:00 am
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East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds with children Ted, 10, and Kitty, 12
East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds with children Ted, 10, and Kitty, 12 (Daniel Gee )

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AS SPRING arrives, with the hope to spend more time outside, many local communities come together to support the annual Great British Spring Clean campaign.

East Hampshire is no exception, and I was delighted to once again join the Alton Society’s litter pick team – seeing its biggest ever turnout, with 76 adults and children taking part this year – and collecting more than 70 bin bags of dropped litter.

Supported by many local organisations, including the Alton Climate Action Network, Alton Lions, Alton Herald, Alton Town Council, as well as local resident associations and local businesses, it’s a great example of community life in action.

And I’m also looking forward to joining the Petersfield Society’s Clean Up event in a few weeks – an opportunity to spruce up the town ahead of celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Also coming up in May is The Big Plastic Count, an opportunity to get involved in an initiative to track household plastic waste. For one week (May 16to 22) people will be counting all the plastic packaging that they throw in the bin or recycling, contributing to a study of data right across the country.

The government announced plans last week to help save money for households disposing of DIY waste, so there would no longer be charges to get rid of waste including items such as plasterboards, bricks and bath units.

This move is intended to help reduce the amount of fly-tipping, which is a crime that blights communities, including many here in East Hampshire.

Fly-tipping not only poses a risk to public health and the environment, it also generates substantial clear-up efforts and costs for local authorities and private land owners.

In recent years, the broader powers of local authorities to tackle fly-tipping has been bolstered. They can now seize offenders’ vehicles and issue fixed penalty fines of up to £400 to both fly tippers and householders who pass their waste on to an unlicensed carrier.

Waste crime costs the UK £924 million per year, with organised criminals profiting through illegally exporting waste abroad, or dumping it across our countryside and our towns and cities.

A tougher new registration scheme for those in the waste industry will see increased background and competency checks for anyone moving or trading waste.

The introduction of mandatory digital waste tracking is also planned, which will overhaul the current system and help to track waste back to its source and those involved be held to account.

The Environment Act also provides new powers to step up action on plastic pollution and litter, and the findings from consultations on banning a range of further single-use plastic items in England and the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme are now under review.

UK consumers go through around 14 billion plastic drinks bottles, nine billion drinks cans and five billion glass bottles a year, and incentivising people to recycle bottles and cans, will help reduce the amount that is littered.

We all have the power to reduce our use of plastic, but also responsibility for how it is disposed.

Taking further steps, as individuals, as households, and also as communities is a critical part of the national effort – and it can start with simply picking up a piece of litter when walking along a street or when out enjoying the countrywide.

East Hampshire is fortunate to have many civic groups, as well as school communities, who support initiatives that not only reduce the impact on the environment, but also encourage us to reuse or recycle items.

The COP26 East Hampshire event shone a light of much of this effort, and the fact that what we do locally matters.

I would encourage everyone to be part of the solution, whether it is making changes at home or work, or possibly joining others to make a difference across a community.

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