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Focus on the fast food fight
Monday 2nd February, 2009

Litter costs a million!
Each year, around £1 million is spent on clearing up litter from the streets of Wigan Borough. And burger boxes, fish and chip papers, pie bags and pizza boxes make up some 25 per cent of all local litter.

Councillor David Molyneux, cabinet environment champion, says:
“Of course fast food is popular, but the litter some people leave behind after eating is a real problem and has a negative impact on how we feel about where we live. Studies carried out by Keep Britain Tidy have also shown that low level anti-social behaviour such as littering can lead to more serious crimes.”

Cllr Molyneux is also concerned about how the food waste can encourage rats and other vermin, further attracting the country’s 65 million plus rats into our urban environment. He adds: “We’re working closely with fast-food establishments. But we need the support of all members of the community in order to make a difference. By simply putting your rubbish in the bin you are helping to improve the local environment.”

The council’s environmental education and neighbourhood teams are aiming to reduce the amount of fast-food litter by a quarter during an attention-grabbing campaign. Focussing on the borough’s busiest town centres - Wigan, Leigh, Atherton and Ashton – the messages will link to Keep Britain Tidy’s ‘litter louts are dirty pigs’ publicity.

Local fast-food businesses involved in the campaign will be helping by minimising the amount of packaging passed onto their customers and encouraging their customers to dispose of their fast-food litter responsibly. The council is providing these businesses with posters to display as well as tray liners and stickers to put on their packaging with the message ‘Eat me. Bin me’.

To target younger audiences, all schools in the borough will have the chance to win up to £300 to spend on environmental materials. The eco competition asks ‘What can our school do to reduce fast-food litter?’ Schools can create a poster, leaflet, web page, display board, or even a song!

As well as this, the team will be visiting schools to deliver educational lessons and there will be posters on buses.
Ellen Belshaw of the council’s team adds: “Last year’s campaign on chewing-gum litter saw a 39 per cent reduction of gum deposits. Although education is key to changing people’s behaviour, we also believe that this needs to be readily supported by enforcement. Dropping litter of any kind is illegal with a fine of up to £2,500. Council officers can issue £80 fixed penalty notices to anyone caught dropping litter including fast-food litter.’

If you would like more information about the campaign or want to know how you can get involved, please contact the team on 01942 488222.

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