Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs
Today I have launched a 12-week public consultation on our draft Litter and Fly-tipping Prevention Plan for Wales. Littering and fly-tipping is unacceptable and there are no excuses for this type of behaviour. These offences can pose risks to health and create a dangerous environment for our communities, pets and wildlife. Poor local environmental quality can spoil enjoyment of our towns and countryside and lead to a negative impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.
The costs involved in clearing and investigating these environmental offences can be a significant burden for all those involved. In the case of Local Authorities, this is ultimately taxpayer’s money. This money could be allocated elsewhere, for example, to social care or education. Littering and fly-tipping are anti-social behaviours which often result in an area appearing run-down and neglected, which often encourages further anti-social behaviour or more serious crime.
I am committed to turning the tide on the scourge of littering and fly-tipping in Wales. Everyone must take responsibility for disposing of their waste properly. Whilst this is not a problem exclusive to Wales, I am determined we should become a cleaner and exemplar nation. I believe the foundation for achieving this has already been laid with our continued high levels of investment in our recycling infrastructure and the ongoing support we provide to the large number of hard working community groups across Wales.
There have been undoubted successes in our current approach, however litter and fly-tipping still persist. This has been particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst many people have rediscovered, reconnected and gained a greater appreciation for their local areas, there were incidents reported in the media of increased littering at local beauty spots and rubbish being dumped when various facilities were closed. Unfortunately, this demonstrated the behaviour of a few can have a significant impact on the enjoyment of many.
To address this we believe an integrated, national approach is needed to influence large-scale and positive behaviour change. Our Plan has been developed in collaboration with a wide range of partners, drawing upon their experience at both a local and national level. Our ambition is for a litter and fly-tipping free Wales. We have identified five key themes, which we believe are essential to delivering this. These are:
- Waste Reduction
- Evidence, Monitoring & Evaluation
- Education and Behaviour Change
- Operational Delivery
The themes are supported by a number of actions which will require everyone in Wales to play their part, from producers to businesses to those disposing of the items. I recognise no one organisation can tackle these issues in isolation. Only by working together can we make a real difference to the lives of the people of Wales. Those who litter or fly-tip often do not care about who owns the land or who will have to pay to clear it up. Therefore, finding solutions to the problem will require involvement from a wide range of sectors, not just public bodies.
Our Plan will have an important role in achieving a zero waste Wales and making a more circular economy a reality where resources are valued and waste avoided. Much of the materials littered have value and could be recycled, reprocessed or remanufactured. We published research in 2019 which estimated around 16,000 tonnes of potentially valuable recyclable materials is being lost from the waste system annually, either by entering the environment as litter or being sent to landfill via litterbins. These are materials our businesses need to make the products we use. Through tackling littering and fly-tipping, we will help Wales become the world leader in recycling.
I believe integrating our activities across all sectors, fully involving everyone at all levels and ensuring we all take responsibility, will ensure Wales is free of litter and fly-tipping. I would welcome any views on the proposed content of the Litter and Fly-tipping Prevention Plan. The consultation closes on 22 April.