Royal Parks outlines cost of litter and launches Sustainability Strategy

One in five visitors to London's Royal Parks leave their litter on the ground contributing to more than 3,000 tonnes of waste collected by park teams every year at a cost of more than £1.7m.

Research carried out by Keep Britain Tidy, which marks the 10th anniversary of its Love Parks Week campaign between July 15 and 24, also reveals that one in four women drop litter compared to one in five men.

The study, which was carried out in some of The Royal Parks’ busiest areas – St James’s and The Green Parks - also shows that groups of visitors are more likely to drop rubbish as they feel confident they won’t be approached by others for their littering habits if they are accompanied by friends.

Ian Allard, The Royal Parks’ Sustainability Manager, said: "While the headline figure is depressing, it’s important to highlight that most visitors to the parks do put their rubbish in the bins.

"We recognise that more work can be done to not only encourage the remaining 20% to put their rubbish in bins, but also to encourage them to sort their waste so we’re able to recycle even more, and reach our target of 40 per cent."

The results of the study have been revealed as The Royal Parks today publishes its first Sustainability Strategy, which focuses on a wide range of issues from environmental improvements through water and energy management to promoting health and fitness, and sustainable events.

The Royal Parks aims to be a leader in the sustainable management of parks and open green spaces in the UK.  The strategy will ensure that staff and contractors working to maintain, conserve and improve the unique green spaces are aligned around the key priorities of economic, environmental and social sustainability. While the strategy applies to all eight Royal Parks, it also respects the uniqueness of each park and its local environment.

Allard said: "Sustainability isn’t just about what we do with our waste; it’s much wider. It’s about looking at the future of the parks and how we operate, whether that is making sure our event organisers are even more responsible and much smarter in the way they carry out their activities, making sure the parks are financially stable in years to come or making sure we have the best people managing the parks in the best way."

One of the first projects to come out of the strategy was launched in the Spring which saw new recycling bins installed across four of the busiest Royal Parks; in Hyde, The Green and St James’s Parks, and in Kensington Gardens, as well as Victoria Tower Gardens, also managed by The Royal Parks.

The launch of the project follows a successful pilot of the scheme which saw 61 per cent of visitors recycling their waste compared to 39 per cent before the new bins were installed.

It is hoped the project will help The Royal Parks achieve its 40 per cent recycling target by the end of this year. It currently recycles 38 per cent of litter and 99 per cent of green waste.

Before the pilot scheme, the Keep Britain Tidy research revealed that 41 per cent of all litter collected in St James’s and The Green Parks could have been recycled, but that in fact only seven per cent was actually placed in recycling bins.

It also showed that 16 to 24 year olds were the best recyclers while under 16s were more likely to throw their rubbish on the floor and least likely to recycle. Overall 59 per cent of visitors interviewed said they don’t recycle when visiting the parks, with many saying the lack of recycling facilities was the main reason.

Allard said: "The recycling figures are particularly insightful because it shows there’s a willingness to recycle, but we need to improve facilities for this to happen. That is why we have taken on board the recommendations from our own and external research, following up our pilot scheme and responding to public requests by installing new bins across some of our busiest parks."

Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: "We are delighted that the Royal Parks is not only looking to tackle littering in the parks but is committed to increasing recycling-on-the-go as well.

"So much of the packaging we throw away when we’re out and about could be recycled, and providing the right bins and then educating everyone to do the right thing with their rubbish is vital if we are going to cut the amount of aluminium, plastic and paper that is being needlessly wasted."

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