The UK Rules
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Dropping Rubbish

Dropping Litter Law

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

OFFENCE OF DROPPING LITTER: A litterer is someone who drops or leaves junk objects on the ground in public places or on isolated locations such as open private land or national forests.

The dumped refuse is often man-made debris or waste odds and ends such cigarette butts, paper or cardboard boxes, tin or aluminium cans, and glass or plastic bottles.

The offence of dropping litter also includes cumbersome and hazardous waste products such as electrical appliances, electronics, car tyres, and batteries.

Dropping Litter Criminal Offence

The UK litter dropping law aims to prosecute and fine those who knowingly deposit trash improperly instead of disposing the rubbish in an appropriate manner.

The dropping of litter is not only a disgraceful blot on the nation's landscape but littering also causes a problem for local residents and the authorities. This is the main reason why the United Kingdom has litter dropping laws and legislation to deal with the offenders.

Dropping Litter is a Criminal OffenceEnvironmental Protection Act 1990

Section 87 of this litter dropping law makes it an offence to throw down, drop or otherwise deposit, and leave litter in any place in the open air.

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

Section 27 of this litter dropping law amends the offence to include within the definition of litter the discarded ends of cigarettes, cigars and the discarded remains of other products designed for chewing.

Most Littered Item in the World

The most littered item around the world is cigarette butts. Experts estimate that 5 trillion cigarette butts are discarded every year and it takes from five years to 400 years for fag ends to break down into complete degradation.

Litter Dropping Sanctions

You will be guilty of a criminal offence if you get caught dropping litter commensurate with Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act. As a result you could be liable for a maximum fine of £2,500.

The usual procedure leading to prosecution for littering is generally less severe. As a rule, you are more likely to receive a fixed penalty notice instead. This is mostly due to the cost of prosecuting offenders and the time consuming nature in doing so.

Fixed Penalty Notices

Local authorities also have the power to issue offending litterers with a fixed penalty notice for dropping litter. The amendment to the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (section 88) allows this action.

Despite the fact that your local authority is fully authorised to specify a penalty between £60 and £80, the Clean Neighbourhoods Act specifies a fixed penalty of £75 for this litter dropping offence.

No criminal proceedings are taken if you pay the notice, but a criminal conviction may be brought against you if you refuse to pay the fine.

Responsibility for Cleaning Litter

Public Land

Local authorities have a legal duty to clear litter and refuse on certain areas of public land. As a general rule they have a responsibility to clear trash or garbage from;

In England, local authorities are permitted to enter and clean land which is owned by the Crown or a statutory undertaker according to the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 (section 56).

They can also place controls on leafleting and the distribution of free literature. Paper flyers often become a substantial source of debris. It is against the law to distribute free literature (or cause someone else to distribute) an area designated by a 'principal litter authority'.

Private Land

Local authorities have no powers to enter and clear rubbish from private land. The responsibility for clearing waste products from private land rests with the owner of the land.


Street Litter Control Notice

Street Litter Control Notices require the owners or occupiers of certain commercial premises to keep the street front of their premises clear from waste items. Local authorities may enforce this notice to prevent or remove the accumulation of refuse in the streets. Non-compliance of a Street Litter Control Notice could result in a fixed penalty notice of £100.

For example: A take-away food outlet is responsible for the control of trash immediately in front of their premises as well as at a park or public garden which may be in the nearby vicinity of their business and property.

Litter Abatement Notice

A Litter Abatement Notice is used most often on other local bodies for failing to keep their designated areas litter free, clean, and safe. The court may issue a Litter Abatement Order (LAO), or members of the public can apply to a Magistrates Court to serve notice, which means the authority must clear the rubbish within a specified time frame.

Noncompliance with land abatement orders is a criminal offence and could result in a fine up to £2,500 with additional fines of up to £125 per day if the offence continues after the conviction.

Litter Clearing Notice

Litter Clearing Notices force businesses and individuals to clear trash off their land and reduce future breaches of the UK littering laws. The local authority must serve the notice on the occupier of the land (or the land owner if there is no occupier). Non-compliance of a Litter Clearing Notice usually results in a fine.

Dropping Litter Law; UK Rules Updated 2017