Highways England is installing giant litter bins across the North West in a bid to cut down on the 40,000 sacks of rubbish collected from motorways in the region last year.
The bins are being installed at around a dozen service areas in the North West over the next months, following the North West Litter Initiative, which also involves trialling new signs that read ‘Workers lives are put at risk picking your litter’.
To collect the rubbish often means workers are put in danger as they are working next to busy traffic. Not only this, but littering can lead to flooding if drains become blocked – creating more work.
Paul Elliot, Service Delivery Team Leader at Highways England, said: “Our teams of workers do a fantastic job removing litter from motorways every year but we’d much rather they were able to spend more of their time carrying out maintenance work.”
On average there are 108 sacks for every mile of motorway, and picking up litter costs the tax payer around £40 for every single one collected. To fix a pothole costs roughly the same as this, so it is clear that the money and time could be better spent elsewhere.
The initiative also aims to put a stop to littering, and reduce the amount of lane closures that are often needed, which cause needless disruption to drivers.
Two different sized bins are being installed next to Give Way lines at the exit to service area car parks, that both car and lorry drivers can reach from their vehicle windows.
Paul Cooper, a maintenance worker for Balfour Beatty, has spent 19 years collecting litter from motorways, alongside his other duties of filling potholes, repairing safety barriers and cleaning drains.
“I think most drivers who sling litter out their windows don’t really think about what they’re doing, and that someone like me has to come along and clear up after them.
There’s always an element of risk when you’re working on the network as you’re near traffic, so my message to drivers is please stop dropping litter and use the bins or take it home with you instead.”