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Cambridge City Council

Council approves new Litter Strategy for Cambridge

24 March 2023

CAMBRIDGE City Council has approved a new Litter Strategy to support the vision for Cambridge to be a city which is free of litter, fly tipping and dog waste.

Littering is both an unnecessary financial and public health cost, as well as being a criminal offence. Published research shows that living in a littered environment makes people feel less safe and less likely to venture out, which can have a negative impact on their mental and physical health. It also makes an area look untidy and uncared for, which, in turn, can lead to a cycle of associated wider environmental, social and economic deterioration and decline. 

In pursuit of the council’s litter free vision for the city, the new Litter Strategy includes the following strategic aims:

  • To maximise the number of people who dispose of their litter responsibly
  • To minimise the proportion of people who feel it is acceptable to litter, fly tip and not pick up after their dog
  • To minimise the environmental impact and maximise the productivity of the council’s streets and open spaces waste management service
  • To minimise the volume of streets and open spaces derived waste going to landfill.

To achieve these aims, the strategy includes a framework of policy commitments and associated actions, which the council will deliver with the support of its partners and the wider community. This includes:

  • Maximising the use of mechanical litter and waste management handling
  • Reviewing the design and location of litter bins and their associated emptying schedules and routes to minimise vehicle movements and miles travelled
  • Using targeted awareness raising campaigns to address known litter issues, including litter types, such as cigarette butts; and litter ‘hot spots’
  • Supporting community groups and individuals to help clear up litter in their local streets and open spaces
  • Taking enforcement action against those people who continue to drop litter, fly tip or not pick up after their dog

Keeping the city clean, including picking up litter and emptying the city’s circa 1800 public litter bins, currently costs the council approximately £2.7M per year and is delivered by a workforce of 55 operatives. 

Through the new Litter Strategy, the council aims to reduce the unnecessary financial cost of picking up and disposing of litter and its associated social, economic and environmental impact.

Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Environment, Climate Change and Biodiversity, said: “Littering is a real problem, it is a financial cost to the community, as well as being a threat to the health and wellbeing of residents, our city’s pets and our local wildlife. We are lucky in Cambridge to have such a dedicated team of council operatives and our fantastic volunteers who put in a lot of effort to look after the city and keep it clean for us all. However, sadly, there are still some people who feel it is acceptable to drop litter, fly tip or not pick up after their dog.

“Through this new strategy, we aim to minimise the number of incidents that do occur and pursue our vision to be a litter free city, including using new knowledge in behavioural science to target our messaging and improving access to on-the-go recycling.

“Tackling this issue is one of the many ways we can continue to lead Cambridge’s response to the climate and biodiversity emergencies and deliver value for money services for our residents.”

The new Litter Strategy was approved at yesterday’s (Thursday 23 March), Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee.