Manufacturers disappointed to see their products among most-littered items on Northamptonshire country road

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McDonald's, Coca-Cola Company and Mars respond to farmer's year-long litter pick

Manufacturers have expressed disappointment after a farmer found their products were among the most common pieces of litter on a country road in Northamptonshire.

Joe Adams' collected 64 bags worth of bottles, packaging and cans along a two-mile stretch of the B4036 near Daventry from March 2019 to March 2020.

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The Long Buckby father then went through all 6,698 pieces of identifiable rubbish with his two children to find out what brands were being dumped the most and who makes them.

Joe Adams with his children Jessica, seven, (left) and Henry, eight, who helped him sort the bags of rubbish collected from the B4039 outside DaventryJoe Adams with his children Jessica, seven, (left) and Henry, eight, who helped him sort the bags of rubbish collected from the B4039 outside Daventry
Joe Adams with his children Jessica, seven, (left) and Henry, eight, who helped him sort the bags of rubbish collected from the B4039 outside Daventry

McDonald's was by far the most common brand, with 1,495 items found by the side of the road, and a spokesperson for the fast food giant urged customers to be more responsible.

"We take our responsibility around litter very seriously, so it is deeply disappointing whenever we hear about a minority of our customers disposing of their rubbish so irresponsibly," they said.

"For over 35 years, McDonald’s restaurant teams have carried out daily litter patrols in local communities, collecting all litter not just McDonald’s branded packaging.

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"Our teams are encouraged to extend their litter patrols to take in any litter hot spots in the local community.

"Large bins are also located outside of our restaurants for customers to use to dispose of any litter.

"Our recent Get in the Bin campaign aims to encourage our customers to help us tackle this problem, by taking their litter home and recycling or disposing of it responsibly.

"We would encourage customers to inform our crew members of any litter hot spots and we will look to include it in our litter patrols wherever possible.”

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Mr Adams believes local authorities should be able to bill the manufacturers for cleaning up their products as the onus would then be on them to do more to reduce littering.

Although the firms may not have actually dumped the items themselves, the farmer thinks it would be impossible to track down the customers so the responsibility must fall on the producers.

Coca-Cola Company products were the second-most littered items with 672 - a spokesperson said it cares about reducing packaging waste and does not want to see any of its packaging littered.

"All of our packaging is 100 per cent recyclable and our aim is to get more of it back so that it can be recycled and turned into new packaging again," they continued.

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"It’s disappointing to see any packaging being littered and that’s why we support the introduction of a well-designed deposit return scheme which would encourage people to recycle rather than litter or throw away.

"In Great Britain, we’re continuing to work with numerous organisations to encourage more recycling on-the-go and we’re actively supporting a number of initiatives, including Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean, with the aim of making litter something of the past.”

PepsiCo was the third most commonly littered manufacturer with Mondelez International, which makes Cadbury's packaging, and Tesco in fourth and fifth.

Mars, Red Bull, Nestle, AB InBev, which makes cans and bottles for numerous alcoholic drinks, and Suntory, the firm behind Ribena and Lucozade, were the other companies in the top 10.

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A Mars spokesperson said: “We are clear that packaging waste in our communities is unacceptable.

"Changing individual behaviour around litter is the only long term sustainable solution to keeping our streets clean, which is why we are the largest corporate funder of anti-littering campaigns in the UK, including The Great British Spring Clean and our award-winning behavioural change programme Bin It!.”

A Red Bull spokesperson said: "Red Bull takes its obligation to the environment seriously and recognises that littering has a negative impact on public spaces that are for us all to enjoy, and therefore it’s always disappointing to hear of any of our discarded cans finding their way into areas of natural beauty.

"Red Bull supports anti-littering campaigns such as Keep Britain Tidy and Every Can Counts to promote recycling and the effective clean-up of beverage cans from the environment.

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"Just a few months ago we took part in the Great British September Clean to support their great work and look forward to continuing our support into 2021.

"Every Can Counts recycling bins are at all of our events and, for our larger events, their team offer support on site.

"Following every event we ensure all cans are sorted and recycled correctly and that the area is thoroughly cleared, leaving it in the same condition we find it in.

"Nevertheless, we appreciate that there is a job to be done to ensure the wider general public, outside of our events, dispose of their litter in a responsible way.

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"It is something we continue to encourage and promote through our recycling adverts, at events and through our support for recycling campaigns.

"We also support the idea of a deposit return scheme and are actively working with the government to help bring this into force."

A Suntory Beverage and Food GB&I spokesperson added: "As a business striving for full circularity, we hate seeing our used bottles end up anywhere other than a recycling bin.

"We’re working hard to make it even easier to recycle our bottles back into another bottle and our latest Ribena design, which includes several recycling prompts and is made from 100 per cent recycled plastic, does just that.

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"Not only is litter damaging to our environment, but it also contributes towards the loss of a valuable resource, which is why we support a national Deposit Return Scheme and work with a number of environmental charities, including Hubbub, to drive positive behaviour change.

"These initiatives have resulted in a 30 per cent reduction in littering some trial areas.

"We know there is still more work to do and applaud Joe for setting a brilliant example to all of us who have a role to play in the fight against litter.”

PepsiCo, Mondelez, Mars, Nestle and AB InBev were also contacted for comment but did not send one before publication.

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