2022 was a good year for Wombling in Peterborough. We have at least a dozen active groups in the area, and more than 620 members on the PLW Facebook group. PLW has also mapped heavily littered ‘hot spots’ which we keep updated on our website for people to see and to keep the council informed. Most importantly, in 2022 we made real progress in clearing years-worth of accumulated rubbish in certain areas of the city, all whilst having fun.

In 2022, we collected more than 2,000 bags of litter, plus roughly an equal amount of non-baggable litter such as camping equipment, furniture, car tyres, children’s toys etc. We come across a lot of drug paraphernalia, including needles, which we either put into secure containers or report to the council to pick up.

How have we done it?

Collaboration - With local groups – publicising litter picks on our Facebook group and website has worked well for us as has lending equipment, advice, and support. We aim to help with things like making sure that people know how to get bags and tell the council about different types of issues.

With the council and waste management – we work closely with Aragon, the council’s waste contractor, who go out of their way to quickly clear whatever we collect. We have recently agreed to separate recyclable rubbish into clear transparent bags, which Aragon provides, and they will take it for recycling rather than incineration as in the past. We are sharing data with Aragon about fly-tipping, hazardous waste and when the ‘hot spot’ areas have been cleared.

With businesses – Amazon held a litter picking competition and cleared more than 250 bags in five days for the last GB Spring Clean, which 4 local Co-op branches and a branch of KFC also took part in. RSA Insurance are taking part in monthly litter picks, continuing into next year, and are kindly sponsoring us as they do it. Anglian Water, HSBC and Virgin Media have all come out on litter picks for their CSR (corporate social responsibility) days. Cross Keys Homes (a social housing provider) have organised regular weekly litter picks from their local offices.

With charities ­– I along with two of my PLW colleagues are Litter Hero Ambassadors for Keep Britain Tidy and have been cleaning up Peterborough since before PLW started in April 2021. We participated in Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean last year, collecting more than 600 bags of litter. This year we welcome the opportunity to expand our network by becoming a Community Cleanup Hub for Peterborough, as part of CleanupUK’s new network.

What’s next?

In 2023, there’s a lot more to do! There are areas of our “Environment City” where years of heavy littering have accumulated, especially in overgrown hedgerows, around open spaces, along footpaths and cycleways, and in neglected parks and in open spaces. There are areas where people routinely fly-tip their rubbish, where drug users and drinkers leave their debris and where bins are routinely over-filled and/or lacking lids, leaving litter to blow around the streets. In at least five places we have seen rats feeding off discarded food waste adjacent to public footpaths and car parks.

The authorities are not resourced or equipped to cope, and some areas have just continued to deteriorate over a long period of time. We are trying to make a real difference in these places, with a rolling programme of litter picks aimed at reducing the level of rubbish in these difficult areas and alerting the council / Aragon to anything that volunteers cannot deal with.

That’s where the 200+ active litter pickers (and there are a lot more out there that we haven’t yet reached) come in, as well as our many supporters on the Facebook group and several very active and caring local councillors. Some people are really going above and beyond, clearing huge amounts of litter on a regular basis. We have lots of amazing volunteers, but we always need more!

Interested in joining? 

Get in touch with the team via their website or their Facebook page.