Guidance for volunteer litter pickers
It is important that you keep yourself safe while litter picking. This information has been designed to help you do just that. There are also some tips and advice that will ensure we are all working together to reduce litter in our borough and enable the borough council to support you as much as we can.
To get you started we will provide you with the following equipment, free of charge:
- High-visibility (hi vis) vest
- Litter picker
Please contact us to return the equipment once you no longer wish to be actively involved in volunteering with us. The equipment will then be reused and will help us to be more sustainable.
Other things you are likely to need:
- Suitable shoes and clothing
- Sun cream and hats in warm weather
Registering your litter pick and disposing of litter
We want to support your litter pick and work with you to ensure the litter collected can be disposed of properly. Wherever possible, we encourage you to take the rubbish you collect home with you and put it in your black bin. If you can safely separate out recyclable materials and put these into your recycling bin this is even better.
If you as an individual (or as part of group) are planning a bigger litter pick that is likely to result in numerous bags of rubbish that you won’t be able to fit into your black bins, you can register your pick with us before you start. This will allow us to arrange a safe and appropriate location for a timely collection.
Health and safety
Whilst picking litter we recommend that you avoid:
- Potentially hazardous objects such as unidentified cans or canisters, oil drums and chemical containers
- Sharp objects such as broken glass and disposable BBQs – these should be collected in separate containers not litter bags
- Clinical waste such as needles/syringes – instead please complete our online reporting form: Report a sharp
- Collecting large objects of any kind – stick to items of litter. If you encounter a fly-tip, please complete our online reporting form: Report fly-tipping
- Hazardous areas such as deep or fast-flowing water, steep, slippery or unstable banks, sharp rocks, derelict buildings, busy roads and electric fences (which are identified by yellow warning signs)
- Working alone – try to stay in sight and earshot of others or let someone know where you’ve gone and when to expect you back
If you encounter dangerous, poisonous or hazardous items, please complete our streetscene contact form or telephone 01455 238141.
Lifting heavy items could be hazardous and should be avoided.
To avoid illness, we strongly recommend you:
- Wear heavy-duty, protective gloves at all times
- Cover any cuts (however minor) with surgical tape or a waterproof plaster
- Keep hands away from mouth and eyes while litter-picking
- Wash hands and forearms before eating, drinking, smoking or going to the toilet
Litter picking on roads
Litter picking along any road can be dangerous, especially those that are busy or have high speed limits. We strongly recommend you avoid picking any road where:
- Traffic is heavy
- The speed limit in the area you intend to pick is more than 30 miles per hour
- Road conditions are such that visibility is restricted by obstructions in the road such as overhanging trees and the contours of the road
- There are blind bends
- Weather dictates it would be difficult for drivers and litter pickers to see each other, for example, sunlight low in the sky, rain or fog, dusk or dawn
- The verge has its own hazards, for example, it is especially narrow, rough underfoot or steep banked
- There is no street lighting
- You are unable to face oncoming traffic to pick litter
- There are distractions such as children or pets that prevent you from concentrating on the safety aspects of litter picking
- You have not told someone of your exact whereabouts and expected return time
- You do not have correct personal protective equipment in place including hi vis and suitable footwear
- You are wearing sound restricting hats, earmuffs or headphones
Use of land
Avoid litter picking on private land as you need permission from the landowner first. Litter on private land is the responsibility of the landowner to dispose of. Wherever possible, stick to public land for your litter picks.
Children should be accompanied by a responsible adult when taking part in a litter pick.
Before you start, make sure children understand which items are potentially dangerous and should not be picked up. Teach children that if they are in any doubt, they should ask a grown up before picking the litter up.
It’s important that children are provided with gloves and wear suitable clothing and footwear.
Volunteers should not participate in litter picks unless they understand and accept that participation is entirely at their own risk. Volunteers are not working for, or on behalf of, a local authority; therefore, we will not be held responsible for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused because of the actions and omissions of volunteers or this guidance.
Please download and keep a copy of this guidance. You can also download the risk assessment for volunteer litter pickers:
Last updated: 16/11/2023 12:26