Despite a wealth of information being made readily available for people highlighting the issues caused by fly-tipping in the UK, recent Government statistics show it is still a very real problem.

Despite a wealth of information being made readily available for people highlighting the issues caused by fly-tipping in the UK, recent Government statistics show it is still a very real problem.

For the year 2017/18 there were 997,553 incidents of fly-tipping in the UK

Figures released by DEFRA at the end of last year show that for the year 2017/18 there were 997,553 incidents of fly-tipping – with the two-thirds of these coming from household waste.

White goods were dumped 49,299 times and green waste 31,632, whereas more obscure items counted for less, but still a significant amount of rubbish – animal carcasses were dumped 6,084 times while the dangerous substance asbestos was thrown to the roadside a massive 3,226 times.

But how much is done to punish the litter droppers?

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs

DEFRA says that of the almost a million fly-tipping incidents, action by councils was launched for less than half. So why is this?

A DEFRA source said: "It is notoriously hard and time consuming, and often – even with huge amounts of evidence, which is hard to come by anyway - will lead to nothing but a warning or a fine.

"Sometimes prosecution is brought in the extremely large cases, but the sad facts are, this is happening on the smaller scale a lot more frequently than mass fly-tippings. Cases like that often aren’t worth taking to court because of the expense. There is just not the manpower at a lot of government offices locally to give this disgusting act the time and effort it needs."

Of 494,127 investigations, less than 10% (46,000) of people were given “letters of warning” with 14% (68,711) given Fixed Penalty Notices and less than half a percent (2,243) being prosecuted through the courts.

A total of 2,186 people were successfully prosecuted, 25 were given time behind bars, 45 community service, and 1,938 given fines.

But is the UK doing something wrong in how we approach this?

In Australia, littering and fly-tipping is given the utmost amount of focus, with the national government launching an array of innovative and costly solutions in recent years.

From joking signs: “Don’t be a tosser”, to emotive signs showing the impact it does to Australia’s most loved wildlife, the Government is using all the tools in its armoury to crackdown on littering.

A special taskforce – Keep Australia Beautiful – works to build strong partnerships with local government offices in programmes and initiatives which are taught in turn to schools.

Australian Scenic View

On its website it says "enlightening the early minds of our children" is the key to stopping this "horrible behaviour" with this generation.

An easily-downloadable Litter Reporter App allows everyday people to snap others who litter or fly-tip with the results stored online as evidence.

Residents are urged to keep tabs on their neighbours and report any fly-tipping, with cases regularly being put forward for prosecution.

And litterers are given costly on-the-spot fines when they are caught in the act: $200 for a single cigarette butt, $200 for throwing something from a car window and $500 for any littering which is considered to create a public risk.

But the Aussies don’t come close to Singapore in the strictness stakes, with the Government coming down heavily on "killer litterers” which in recent years has resulted in fly-tipping and littering becoming almost non-existent and a major taboo. First time offenders are dealt with harshly and served with an immediate $2,000 fine. A second offence attracts a $4,000 fine and a third $10,000.

In Singapore, placing an object in a dangerous position can lead to; a fine up to $2,000, having your home repossessed or even being jailed for two years

Alongside this, the courts will impose “corrective work orders” which require offenders to clean public areas for 12 hours at a time.

Another law in Singapore deals with “killer litter” specifically – objects which are placed on high windowsills which could fall and injure those walking past. Anyone found guilty of placing an object in a dangerous position can be fined up to $2,000, have their home repossessed or even be jailed for two years.

In Singapore, throwing a cigarette butt on the floor has lead to a fine of $19,800 (£9,500)

In January of last year, a smoker in Singapore was fined $19,800 (£9,500) for throwing a single cigarette butt out of his window.

No littering

In America litter laws vary but are equally as strict, with most local government offices putting the onuses on big businesses to take responsibility for the area in which they are setting up shop.

Shops and businesses are ultimately responsible for the pavement in front of their premises, with heavy fines in place for the places that fall short of what is seen as their civic duty to keep the area pristine.

Businesses in some areas are also pushed to “sponsor a highway” and they then have to pay for a section of the interstate to be cleaned regularly by an outsider contractor. These businesses are then thanked publicly along that side of the road, giving them advertising in return.

But the world’s toughest laws are found in Kenya – which last year made it strictly illegal to use plastic bags in any way, shape or form.

In Kenya, producing, selling and even using a plastic bag, could lead to 4 years in jail or an eye-watering $40,000 fine

Producing, selling and even using a plastic bag could see you end up behind bars for a whopping four years or landed with an eye-watering $40,000 fine.

The east African nation joined more than 40 other countries in the crackdown with most partly banning, or taxing single use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda, and Italy.

Keep beaches clean

But Kenya’s punishments were hailed as the strictest in the world.

Habib El-Habr, an expert on marine litter working with the UN environment programme in Kenya said that many bags drift into the ocean strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of whales and dolphins with the waste until they die of starvation.

If we continue like this by 2050 we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish. Something drastic needs to happen.

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