The Real Cost of Litter

guest post by Ruth Walker

There are not many places in the UK today where you will not see at least one piece of litter. Indeed, statistics from finance experts Money Guru report that roughly 62 % of people drop litter at some time, although only 28% ever admit to the fact. Litter and the resulting clean-up costs the local authorities, and the UK tax payer, more than £1 billion per year. £6 million of this is simply picking up litter from roadsides that has been thrown from passing cars.

Plastic is by far the worst offender in the war on litter as it is virtually indestructible, and so when littered will remain wherever it falls for a very long time. There are huge floating islands of plastic in our oceans and what does not go into the ocean ends up in landfill. It is estimated that almost 4/5ths of all the plastic produced in the last 60 years is somewhere in the environment. In the UK alone almost 39 million plastic bottles are used every day and only around a half of these are recycled.

The plastic that ends up in rivers and seas is ingested by fish and this easily reaches the human food chain. Statistics show that 1/3rd of all British Channel caught fish had traces of plastic inside them.

Cigarette butts, packets and lighters are the next worst offenders with over 200 million cigarette butts, 36,000 cigarette packs and 18,000 lighters discarded into the environment every day in the UK alone.

Littering is bad for the environment and for the general populace. It can cause a health hazard by attracting vermin. Studies also show that areas of high littering are often also areas of poor social and educational standards; increased littering in these areas strongly correlates with a downward spiral of poor hygiene and anti-social behaviour.

This infographic by Ruth Walker for Money Guru illustrates the real impact and cost of litter:

Price of Litter Infographic

Price of Litter Infographic, courtesy of

Ruth Walker writes for Money Guru, an innovative credit focused price comparison brand offering customers access to a full suite of market services for loan and credit products.