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Green Clean 2018: the results

Green Clean 2018: the results

Throughout September, volunteers from all over the country helped us to clean up the countryside with CPRE’s Green Clean. From Brigg to Birmingham and Salisbury to Selling, CPRE members joined with local communities in a series of 35 litter picks to rid the countryside of one of the biggest, unnecessary eyesores – discarded bottles and cans.

As well as making these areas cleaner, we gathered data on exactly what was collected, so that we can better understand how the government should approach England’s deposit return system – the buy > drink > return scheme that Environmental Secretary Michael Gove has committed to introduce, where we will pay a deposit on drinks containers that is refunded when we return them for recycling. We were also accompanied by our mobile reverse vending machine – which recycles empty bottles and cans in exchange for cash – to show everyone just how the new system would work.

Green Clean 2018 in pictures

Green clean 2018 collage

The results

We collected a staggering 11,212 bottles and cans

These came in all shapes, sizes and materials:

Aluminium – 50% of total
18% of these were small cans (<330ml), 29% were medium sized (330ml), and 53% were large (>330ml).

Plastic bottles – 35% of total
10% of these were small bottles (below 500ml), 71% were medium sized (500ml), 10% were large (501ml-1.5l), and 9% were considered extra-large (>1.5l).

Glass bottles – 14% of total
25% of these were small (<330ml), 42% were medium sized (400-750ml), and 33% were large (>750ml).

The remaining 1% of the total were Tetra Pak containers.

Generally, it was often the more densely populated areas that were the biggest culprits, such as Sheffield, where over 2000 bottles and cans were picked up in just two hours. However, even the more remote places, like Throckley village in Northumberland and Brigg market town in North Lincolnshire, were strewn with litter.

We all want recycling to work, but our data clearly shows that current collection methods are failing. We will now be using this evidence to call on the government to create a well-designed deposit return system that includes bottles and cans of all materials and all sizes – not the limited system that drinks companies are lobbying for. Anything less, and our countryside will continue to be blighted by discarded drinks.

We’d like to extend a huge thanks to everyone that took part in our first ever Green Clean – without our volunteers, we wouldn’t have this leverage to influence what is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the best possible scheme for England.


A well-designed and effective Deposit Return Scheme would fulfil the following criteria:


All single-use drinks containers, regardless of material or size, should be included. In addition, the scheme should automatically include any new materials or designs brought to market to prevent producers altering bottle size, shape and material to avoid requirements for them to participate.


The system will need to be mandatory to achieve the large-scale behaviour change that we need to really tackle the problem of litter in our countryside. A voluntary system that drinks manufacturers could decide not to sign up to would be setting the scheme up to fail.


The same regulations for a deposit return scheme should apply to all four nations of the UK, a bottle purchased in Aberdeen should be able to be returned for the deposit in Penzance.


There should be as many return points as possible, from the biggest supermarkets to your local corner shop, so it’s as convenient as possible to reclaim your deposit.

We all want recycling to work, but our data clearly shows that current collection methods are failing.

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