Rubbished dumped on New Barn Road

Littering Our Communities

Littering and fly tipping is as high as ever it seems. From the verges of our roads to our treasured parks and town centre, litter is a big problem in Swanley and beyond. Fly tipping incidents still hover at around 1 million incidents reported per annum as of latest figures, whilst the cost to the taxpayer for keeping our streets clean from litter is over £1 billion per year.

The effects of fly tipping and littering does not just lie with the taxpayer though. It can cause disruption of our waterways. When plastics are dumped inappropriately, they follow the path of water after heavy rains and eventually end up in drainage pipes and sewer channels. Littering and fly tipping also provides a conductive environment for pests such as rats and can ensnare and wound animals if the littering builds up leaving a real impact on local wildlife.

This all has a serious impact on our environment, visually as we walk our streets and within the giant landfill sites found all around the world which the UK is a large contributor to.

Whilst the most common ‘final waste treatment’ in the UK is ‘recycling and other recovery’, in 2016 Landfill was the second most used waste treatment in the UK, with 24.4% (52.3 million tonnes) of waste disposed of in landfill thus setting a terrible example to its citizens. At a time when recycling and the environment is at the top of lists of priorities for voters, our governments must do better to set an example that we can all follow.

A better example to follow was the Labour party within Derby City Council who ahead of the recent elections proposed free bulky waste collections in an attempt to limit the rising fly tipping around the city. Wigan council which is Labour run links residents to local charities through the website who collect furniture and household items free of charge to support local people in need.

Unfortunately, collections in Sevenoaks range from £18 for 1 item to £42 for large fridge freezers. An initiative of free collections could drastically cut down on the levels of rubbish and litter seen across the town.

Whilst littering, fly tipping and recycling can only truly be improved through strict government initiatives and social policies, we can all do our bit to keep our streets clean too. Use the Swanley Household Waste Recycling Centre where possible. If you see a piece of litter in the town, or anywhere else, carefully pick it up and put it in the bin. If you see accumulations of litter in a public place, report it to the local council. Be specific about location, type and the amount of litter. Finally, remember the little things: when recycling plastic bottles, putting the lid back on can help ensure it gets recycled along with the larger bottle.

By Charlie Zahra
Swanley & District Labour Party Branch Secretary

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