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Litter and Refuse Laws in UK

The criminal offences of littering and discarding, including improper disposing of waste products, are punishable by law in the United Kingdom. Because littering offences often result in a penalty or substantial fine, this section explains how to stay within the rule of law and avoid severe penalties.

What are the Most Common Littering Laws?

As a rule, DEFRA make the legislation on littering. They force district councils and local authorities to regulate the rules about littering.

Most councils are required to keep relevant land safe and clear of discarded garbage in their regions.

They also prosecute offenders with severe penalties and fines for breaching relevant sections of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

What is Litter Pollution?

The long term consequences of littering have a human impact on the environment and the catastrophic effect of litter problems cause serious environmental issues in a huge number of countries worldwide.

Most governments invest large sums of money trying to educate citizens about how to stop littering. Before litter degrades, it affects the quality of life for humans and animals, existing on land and in the oceans for long periods of time.

Basic Guide to Littering Laws

Dog Mess

Dog Poop

Local council fines for dog mess vary from £50 to £80. You can avoid an on-the-spot fine by knowing the current dog fouling law for picking up after your pet pooch.

Report Dog Fouling

Local councils must keep certain areas clear of dog mess. Even so, you can report a dog fouling problem if the poop is on public areas like pavements, parks, and playgrounds.

Note: You can report a litter problem to the council if you notice litter abandoned on the streets in your neighbourhood.

Dropping Litter

It is a criminal offence to knowingly drop items of rubbish or deposit garbage and trash inappropriately – or without consent.

The UK litter dropping laws prosecute and fine litterers who leave junk objects on the ground in public places or on isolated locations (e.g. open private land and national forests).

Environmental Offences

You must pay or challenge a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for committing an environmental offence. Typical examples include:

The FPN from the local council or issuing authority (e.g. a national park) will state the offence – and how much you need to pay. In most cases, it will be an “on the spot” fine or they might send it through the post.

Important: Fixed penalty notices explain how to pay (you usually get fourteen days). But, failing to pay before the deadline means you may be prosecuted and receive a bigger fine.

Fishing Waste

Lost or discarded fishing litter causes avoidable suffering for wildlife animals. Each year, thousands of birds and wild animals get hurt or die from fishing litter.

Note: Another section covers fishing rules and regulations in greater detail. Please take your fishing waste home with you.

Fly Tipping Rules

The illegal dumping (or abandoning) of waste litter is an offence penalized by district councils who are responsible for keeping relevant land clear and safe.

Furthermore, the fly tipping laws in the United Kingdom also apply to the highways, beaches, and inland waterways.

Waste Management

You can learn more about the ‘duty of care’ required during the disposal of business waste by reviewing your responsibilities for waste collection, licence permits, and how to use waste transfer notes.

Laws on Littering and Discarding Waste Refuse