‘Deposit scheme urgently needed to tackle litter problem’

Some of the litter Audrey Beckett recently picked up along one roadside during the short walk from her local shop.
Some of the litter Audrey Beckett recently picked up along one roadside during the short walk from her local shop.

An Ulster Star reader has suggested that the government could dramatically reduce the problem of littering by implementing a deposit scheme on aluminium cans and plastic bottles.

Audrey Beckett was responding to last week’s story highlighting the millions of pounds of local ratepayers’ money being used to clean up after litter louts across Lisburn and Castlereagh.

“There urgently needs to be a 10p deposit on all aluminium drinks cans and plastic bottles, refundable at recycling centres or the retailer,” Mrs Beckett said. “People would not throw their empty can or bottle down if they could get 10p back for it.

“In all the time I have been picking up litter, I have not seen one 10p that has been discarded! This deposit system has been working for years in South Australia, and littering there is almost non-existant.”

Welcoming the council’s efforts to promote the anti-littering message, Mrs Beckett continued: “It is important for parents, teachers and other adults to instill into young children the importance of putting litter in the bins provided, this then becomes a lifetime habit which one’s conscience will not allow one to break. However, judging by the copious amounts of filthy litter that I pick up regularly from the roadside near my home, I can only conclude that very few people here have acquired this habit and simply couldn’t care less what the place looks like.

“I challenge anyone to show me a roadside in Northern Ireland that is not liberally strewn with litter. I have been in several European countries and in Australia, Canada and the USA, and have never witnessed the levels of litter like there is here. Northern Ireland could quite easily win the dubious award of being the ‘Litter Capital’ of any developed country. Visitors from other countries must think we so careless and that we are so ignorant that we don’t know to take our litter home and put it in the appropriate bin provided by our council.”

She added: “People need to ask themselves, do they want to improve the environment or pollute it during their lifetime? The pollution from carelessly discarded aluminium cans and plastic bottles continues long after the litter lout has died - a plastic bottle takes at least 450 years to degrade. Littering should become as socially unacceptable as smoking in public.”

• Read related story - Ratepayers’ money going in the bin: Council spends £2.2million cleaning up after litter louts