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Reducing litter caused by ‘food on the go’ – A Voluntary Code of Practice for local partnerships

DEFRA’s guide to their code can be seen here. What follows is my guide to their guide.


What is a local partnership?

Local partnerships are partnerships between a local authority and a fast food outlet in its area. However if the outlet is on a railway station the partner would be Network Rail.

What has brought this about?

Apparently lots of chaps have been busy on our behalf doing research and consulting with interested parties including McDonalds to ensure that all views are represented. There have been both pilot studies and case studies.  The code is supplemented by “a raft of other measures” led by ”a strong Ministerial commitment”. So the idea that the government are doing absolutely nothing about fast food litter could not be further from the truth.

What is going to happen?

Each year participating fast food outlets and their local authority will jointly complete and sign an agreement form. It will say what each side is going to do about:

Public Education – The outlet might agree to put up a poster with an anti-litter message and the local authority might agree to talk to the local schools.

Packaging – The outlet might agree to see if it can be reduce the volume of its packaging.

Waste – The outlet might agree to comply with the Duty of Care on Waste Regulation.

Litter – The outlet might agree to clear litter on a daily basis from in front of his premises. If the outlet and the authority agree it is needed the local authority will provide a bin outside the premises.

But isn’t that sort of thing happening already?

Yes. Local authorities already visit schools to educate children about litter.  Councils are already make outlets aware of  their Duty of Care on Waste Regulation. Responsible minded outlets already clear litter from outside their premises in agreement with their local authority.  Councils can of course locate  bins wherever they feel appropriate.   What will be new is the extra paperwork.

Will all local authorities have to set up a scheme?

No, it’s a voluntary code.

If my local authority sets up a scheme will all outlets in its area have to participate?

No, it’s a voluntary code.

If a local authority goes ahead won’t it mean extra work for them?

Not necessarily. The guide explains that “Local authorities already have powers to require local businesses, and others, to clear up litter in certain circumstances. However, one benefit of effective joint working could be that these powers need not be enforced”. Form filling and box ticking is a lot easier than taking fast food outlet operators to court.

So how who benefits from all this?

The government benefits.  Ministers questioned  about the coalition’s commitment “to work to reduce litter” will be able to say they have introduced a Code of Practice to combat fast food litter. They have already launched a Fly-tipping Partnership Framework and support Keep Britain Tidy’s “Love where you live” campaign.

Will our streets be any cleaner?

Similar campaigns and codes of practice have being doing the rounds for decades without any improvement in the state of our streets and public spaces. No, this new code will not make our streets any cleaner.

Peter Silverman
16th April 2013


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