Tackling the blocks to behaviour change – how the BCC helped Keep Britain Tidy put litter on the political agenda

Academics and politicians came together recently to discuss new ways of tackling environmental challenges – from local to global.

Sewer-blocking wet wipes, the relationship between litter and crime and the devastating consequences of aquatic and marine litter were just some of the issues discussed at a roundtable event at Middlesex University, organised by BCC member Keep Britain Tidy and funded by the British Cleaning Council.

Among those addressing the event was Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman who spoke about how we ensure, in a climate of political uncertainty, the environmental challenges we are facing are key elements of the social and, of course, environmental policies of the future.

She discussed the roles of policy-makers, manufacturers, academics and practitioners in driving behaviour change among consumers as a way of dealing with the challenges and how, if we are to engage everyone in moving towards pro-environmental behaviours in the future, it is essential that we tackle wider social and economic issues, including deprivation, rather than simply relying on behaviour change campaigns.

“The issues of litter and environmental quality are inextricably linked. Litter can be the cause of poor environmental quality, and it can cause further environmental degradation.

We’ve seen the devastating effect of plastics and micro-plastics on marine life and the sea itself. It’s essential that we take immediate and wide-ranging action to reverse the degradation of our precious natural environment.

Environmental quality is an issue of social justice, and it’s clear that tackling social and economic issues, including deprivation, helps to improve and enhance our environment.” – Shadow Environment Secretary, Sue Hayman MP

The Labour frontbencher was joined by the Chair of the Environment Agency Emma Howard Boyd who outlined how the Agency is working to regulate to protect the environment and ensure businesses take environmental risks seriously.

Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said:

“This week, the country’s biggest mass-action environmental campaign came to an end after a month that saw more than 540,000 volunteers out cleaning up the rubbish that blights our streets, parks and beaches.

They demonstrated that people do care about the environment on their doorstep and want to see all those who have a role to play in tackling litter pollution coming together to make change happen.

By bringing together politicians, academics and activists, we hope that we can learn from each other and develop innovative and creative solutions to make a measurable, long-term difference.”

The roundtable event was jointly hosted by KBT’s Centre for Social Innovation and Middlesex University.

Among the universities taking part were London School of Economics, Imperial College, Newcastle University, Cardiff University, Middlesex University.

They were joined by representatives of the Marine Conservation Society and Cleanup UK as well as some of our #LitterHeroes Ambassadors, volunteers who support our charity’s work across the country.

More information on the work of Keep Britain Tidy can be found at www.keepbritaintidy.org 

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