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Fast food and confection litter up
Litter from fast food and confectionery is getting worse, with both up 3% this year, according to a study published today.
However overall, England is getting cleaner, according to the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.
Its 12th annual Local Environmental Quality Survey of England, produced on behalf of Defra, shows that more places are now of an acceptable standard when it comes to cleanliness, despite the significant funding cuts suffered by local authorities.
However litter has shown no statistically significant improvement in the number of places meeting the required standard.
Both fast food and confectionery-related litter have seen an increase of 3% in 2012/13 compared with the previous year.
The report covers 10,682 sites in 54 local authority areas. There are seven headline indicators, namely litter, detritus, graffiti, flyposting, recent leaf and blossom fall, weed growth and staining, which are used to give an overall picture of how clean England is.
All headline indicators in 2012-13 improved or stayed the same, with fewer of the places surveyed falling below an acceptable cleanliness standard.
The indicators that have shown the greatest improvement - detritus and staining - are directly linked to street cleaning activity and suggest councils are finding ways to do more with less, the organisation said.
Detritus - the natural grit, sand and soil found on streets and pavements - and staining - caused by things such as chewing gum and oil from vehicles - make streets look dirty.
The improvement in these two indicators has been significant in 2012-13, with a year-on-year 13% increase in the number of sites meeting the required standard for detritus and 8% for staining.
As for graffiti, there has been a 50% decrease in the number of sites falling below an acceptable standard. Only 3% of the places surveyed have an unacceptable level of graffiti.
On litter, there has been no statistically significant improvement in the number of places meeting the required standard in 2012-13.
Fast food litter was up 3%. This type of litter is a particular problem on rural and main roads, with 48% of rural roads and 46% of main roads affected. The most obvious explanation for this is people using 'drive-thru' restaurants and throwing the packaging from their vehicles, the organisation said.
The number of sites affected by confectionery packaging has risen by 3% to 68% and snack packaging is also now found on 3% more sites, rising to 23%.
The perennial problem of smoking-related litter continues to give cause for concern and cigarette butts are still to be found on 82% of sites, rising to 99% in main retail areas.
Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Phil Barton said: "It is great news that, overall, England is cleaner and this is testament to the local authorities up and down the country who are managing to maintain and improve standards, despite the difficult financial position, through innovation and hard work.
"However, the continued growth in fast food and confectionery-related litter means that there is still a huge amount to do to educate the public that they have a responsibility to do the right thing.
"When you buy a burger or a chocolate bar, you buy the wrapper as well as the contents and it is your responsibility to dispose of it properly.
"It is time for everyone to ask themselves the question: 'When it comes to litter, which side of the fence are you on?' Do we want the places we live in and love to be littered? If the answer to that question is 'no' then every one of us has a role to play in cleaning up our act."