"The less stuff is produced the less there will be available to chuck away"

Your organisation's mission statement is: "Helping you to clean our planet" and in the portfolio of your activities there are six way how you can do it. How would you define yourself in one sentence? Are you an environmental consultancy or a marketing agency focused on green organisations?

Clean Planet Today would define themselves as an Environmental organisation whose mission is to eradicate litter and fly-tipping.

How long have you been around, and which achievement are you most proud of?

Clean Planet Today was formed in early 2020, when Darren Hayday and Helen Flynn ‘bumped’ into each other virtually whilst discussing the U.K.’s terrible litter and fly-tipping problems with wider members of the public. They decided to form an organisation dedicated to finding solutions to these problems.

You are working with several environmentally focused organisations, Littercam or Greenbutts being some of them. How do you help them?

We try to raise the profile of the organisations we support on our website by engaging with them on Twitter, other social media outlets and linking them up with other organisations with a common goal to them. We have introduced people via online meetings to other organisations where we feel there is common ground and there would be a mutual benefit for contact. For instance, we introduced Plantlife to a contact we had in the NFU (National FarmersUnion.) It’s amazing how many organisations don’t network enough or hardly ever. We believe you can never do too much of it!

Why do you think organisations tackling environmental issues should have a different approach to marketing?

As touched on above, many organisations simply don’t communicate with each other. Also, there certainly needs to be a much more joined up approach with local authorities who don’t feel the need to talk to one another, for example when they might be arriving to mow verges, leading to the terrible problem of mowed through litter. This is why we support Plantlife who against all the odds are trying to save our roadside verges, and of course mowed through litter will undo much of their wonderful work.

What criteria do you apply when choosing companies you collaborate with?

We look for individuals and companies with innovative solutions to litter and waste problems. We often support those who are out of the mainstream as opposed to those , whose ideas and products are quite mainstream and would therefore probably no find it too difficult to get a lot of support. For example, loose waste is rarely mentioned as a big cause of litter but it certainly is and should be prevented more, which is why we support and try to promote Binstrap.

One of your activities include: "Ensure that the government works with the packaging industry and takeaway food companies, forcing them to do much more to educate their customers on littering." Why is it important to transfer responsibility for waste from customers to producers?

The answer to this is quite simply the less stuff is produced the less there will be available to chuck away. Sadly, the truth is corporations will rarely act without pressure. At the moment, the government plans to introduce the EPR, Extended Producer Responsibility in 2023, but as with so many other environmental plans it is very slow in reaching fruition.

What tools do you use to lobby for such a change?

We have contacted and set up meetings with Defra, MP’s, the Environmental Agency, local authorities and many others. We set up meetings whereby people can talk and discuss environmental issues with each other. For instance a representative from Defra might find it useful and learn something from ClearWaste who work to trace and eradicate fly-tipping. So often people set up meetings with the same people so there are no fresh ideas coming to the table, or opportunities to see things from a different perspective. Darren Hayday has been a local councillor for some 20 years and therefore has a lot of valuable knowledge of how local politics works and also how to get in touch with people who can sometimes prove illusive to others.

Darren, as a former mayor, how did your previous experience in public services change your perception of waste management on a local level? How do you perceive the competences local authorities have in this matter?

When I started out in public service I looked at littering and fly-tipping as something which ‘just happened’ and at that time Councils had more budget to deal with both issues. This was pre the 2008 financial crash and at the time local Councils used their own staff and vehicles. However, fast forward to current times and both issues have got worse. I have had my eyes opened since I started to regularly litter pick. Both Helen and I are obsessed with litter, it’s just disgusting. We are both on a mission to eradicate litter and fly-tipping. Councils now rely more on outside contractors, they have also had to slash budgets down to the bone to survive in these hard times. They also have to try and deal with the issue of trade waste being taken to residential dumps. Local authorities are not doing enough to stop people from using ‘men in vans’ cash in hand type services whereby they then go and fly tip the waste. It is not fair that volunteer litter pickers are doing the work which the councils are legally responsible for doing, local authorities need to invest in technology and fine people who litter and more actions to reduce fly-tipping. Central government needs to provide the support and adequate funding so they are able to do this. Organisations such as U.K. Highways and Highways England also need to step up to and clear rubbish alongside our motorways which they have a legal duty to do. There seems to be a lack of accountability everywhere.

Technology seems to be on the forefront of everything these days, even when it comes to litter. Even at Eco Green Communities we are using QR codes to monitor current number of bags in our stations. Which tech tool have you found to be useful in waste management lately?

We think that ANPR technology is the way forward with litter and fly-tipping enforcement, and we have supported LitterCam since the beginning. We are also a big fan of reporting Apps and there are some excellent ones out there now, such as ‘LoveCleanStreets’ whereby you can report a grot spot with a smartphone whilst at the scene, the phone will find the exact location and send on to the relevant authority without the need to find postcodes. Also, ClearWaste and TrolleyWise are other very useful reporting Apps.

At this point of the interview, we like to dream a bit. If you could change one environmental problem overnight, which one would it be?It’s very difficult to choose one but of course for us it has to be the eradication of litter and fly-tipping.

A final word by Eco Green Communities:

Eco Green Communities are about passionate individuals, socially conscious businesses and engaged Local Authorities, who don’t hesitate to step out of their comfort zone to keep our country clean. Do you know a business or individual, who aspire to do so? Share your or their story with us by email: andrea@ecogreencommunities.com

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