Road users implored to stop littering

10.58 | 14 February 2024 | | 2 comments

National Highways has launched a new campaign calling on road users to protect wildlife – and help reduce delays – by taking their rubbish home.

The campaign, which is supported by the RSPCA and Keep Britain Tidy, kicks off with a simple plea: ‘Lend a paw – bin your litter’.

A survey carried out by National Highways shows that while more than 90% of respondents said they had never discarded litter onto the roadside, more than 60% said they had seen someone else doing it.

The campaign aims to highlight the link between littering and endangering wildlife, with the survey also showing many people are oblivious to the fact that discarded rubbish and fruit can attract animals, with often deadly consequences.

Almost half of the people who took part in the survey were unaware that fruit peel and apple cores count as litter.

The campaign also shows the costs to drivers, highlighting that National Highways has to close down motorway lanes in order to keep litter-pickers safe.

Nick Harris, chief executive of National Highways, said: “Littering is a dreadful social problem. It’s not just unsightly, it can have a deadly impact on wildlife, turning verges into lethal roadside restaurants.

“We’re working hard to tackle it on our roads, with our people litter-picking every day. To keep them safe we have to close motorway lanes, which delays drivers and costs millions of pounds.

 “But if people don’t drop litter in the first place it wouldn’t need to be picked up – so we urge road users to take their litter home.”


As part of a long-term effort to rid the roadsides and motorway service areas of rubbish, National Highways has run a trial using AI-enabled cameras in conjunction with a local authority that is carrying out enforcement.

National Highways has also trialled message signs to reduce motorway littering, used geofencing to send texts to motorists entering laybys where littering is an issue to prompt them to take their litter home, and will be taking part in the upcoming Great British Spring Clean for the ninth year running.

Meanwhile, over the last three years, the RSPCA has received more than 10,000 reports of animals found injured, trapped or dead from discarded litter – that’s nearly 10 reports every day.

Geoff Edmond, RSPCA lead wildlife officer, said: “We welcome National Highways’ campaign to raise awareness about the dangers wildlife faces from litter discarded by the roadside.

“Our rescuers deal with thousands of incidents every year where animals have been impacted by litter. Old drinks cans and bottles, plastic items and even disposable vapes are just some of the items that pose a danger to our wildlife including hedgehogs, squirrels, deer and foxes. 

“But it’s really easy for the public to help. When people are out on the roads, we urge them to hold on to their litter until there is an opportunity to dispose of it safely and responsibly – or recycle where appropriate. As we all strive to create a better world for every animal, this could save an animal’s life.”

The new campaign will feature on radio adverts, roadside billboards, posters at motorway service areas and petrol stations, and on social media.

Click here to download the campaign toolkit.



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    Local to me, there is a lay-by on a rural B-road, big enough for two or three cars and which is popular for those taking a break to eat and/or drink. The only problem with this is that some of these people leave their empty takeaway containers/packages/cups/cans etc. on the grass verge or thrown into to the hedge. I have made two requests to the local Council (Cheshire West) and the local Councillor, for a litter bin to be installed here..answer? “does not meet criterion for a litter bin”. Beggars belief doesn’t it?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire (west)
    Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

    A really worthwhile campaign. Let’s hope it helps to improve things.

    Mark Armstrong, Dorset
    Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

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