Throughout September, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) held 35 litter picks across England as part of its nationwide ‘Green Clean’. As well as helping communities clean up their local green spaces, CPRE wanted to highlight the astonishing variety of cans and bottles discarded across our countryside, towns and cities.
Plastic, aluminium and glass
The data collected during the Green Clean events will help the government as it designs England’s deposit return system, which – if properly set up to collect every drinks can and bottle – will provide a simple solution to recycling confusion and boost recycling rates for drinks container waste to more than 90%.
Volunteers taking part in the Green Clean collected a total of 11,212 cans and bottles of all shapes, sizes and materials. Over a third (35%) of those collected were made from plastic, 50% were aluminium, 14% glass and 1% Tetra Pak.
While plastic packaging has been making the headlines, these figures show that two-thirds of all drinks containers littered are made from other materials – such as aluminium and glass – and should be taken just as seriously.
Of the plastics, 10% were small bottles (below 500ml), 71% were medium (500ml – such as an average water bottle), 10% were large (501ml-1.5l), and 9% were considered extra-large (more than 1.5l).
Of the cans, 18% were small (below 330ml – such as a small energy drink), 29% were medium (330ml – an average fizzy drink can) and 53% were large (more than 330ml – an average beer can).
Of the glass bottles, 25% were small (under 330ml – a stubby and regular beer bottle), 42% were medium (400-750ml – a larger beer bottle) and 33% were large (more than 750 ml – wine bottles and large spirits bottles).