The role of litter bins in reducing dropped litter

The litter picking done by the many LitterAction volunteer groups throughout the UK is highly commendable and makes a real difference to the cleanliness of our outdoor areas. The efforts of the litter pickers could be greatly helped by installing more litter bins. Whilst this would not fully eradicate litter it would greatly help the problem with less litter being dropped. There will always be a mix of attitudes towards littering and these can be split into three groups of people; those that never drop litter and always ensure that their litter goes in a bin regardless of whether there is one close by; those that make no effort to put their litter into the bins; and those that will dispose of their litter into a bin if there is a bin close by and it’s made easy for them to dispose of their. By providing sufficient numbers of litter bins it is this third group of people that will drop less litter. 48% of people admit to dropping litter (source: and I believe many of these people would not drop litter if there were more bins for public use.

To be effective, litter bins need to be emptied regularly – there’s no worse sight than an overflowing litter bin. Councils can be contacted to empty litter bins should there be a council-owned litter bin that is full and needs emptying. I would encourage everyone to do this should they see a full council-owned litter bin. Please also do the same and contact the relevant organisation for any other overflowing bins in public areas as when bins overflow litter often gets blown around by the wind, creating a worse litter problem than if there been no bin present at all. Litter bins with fully open tops are the worst offenders for this. When purchasing an outdoor bin where there is a possibility that it could overflow, choose a litter bin with a lid to minimise this problem.

There is a broad range of different types of litter bins available to meet different needs. Traditional style litter bins that have a modern construction are a popular choice. Their aesthetically pleasing design combined with a high density polyethylene construction allows traditional appearances to be retained whilst keeping costs low and providing a much longer usable life. Most new litter bins also come with ‘TidyMan’ logo printed on them, this universally recognised symbol provides a clear visual reminder to put litter in the bin.

By Lee Newell from ESE Direct, a UK-based supplier of litter bins


  1. There is anecdotal evidence which would suggest that more bins create more litter. Removing bins does not create more litter. Fewer bins to empty means Council’s save money. Your thoughts.

  2. I disagree. On my regular journey to Scarborough from Malton alomg the A64, the worst littering is around lay-bys and pull-ins. This, of course, blows down the road and spreads the problem. If people have gone to the trouble to stop in a lay-by to dump their rubbish there’s a chance they would put it in a bin if there was one. The council’s function is to keep civic areas clean.
    Also, litter bins in stopping places need to be MUCH bigger and with a lid, like the ones on the French motorway ‘aires’

  3. Thanks for sharing excellent information. Litter is nothing but a piece of waste or rubbish that has been disposed improperly, without consent and at wrong location. Littering simply means throwing away objects on the ground or leaving them lying on the ground instead of disposing them at garbage can, recycling bin or trash container.

  4. Hi I live in Oldham nr. manchester ,this year the council has taken some of our litter bins away resulting in overflowing bins. I report this problem on a regular basis to the council, they don’t seem to have a regular system of emptying bins.
    So has far as I’m concerned the council is cotributing to the litter problem themselves.

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