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Litter-picks

On 22 February 2021, the government presented its 'roadmap out of lockdown’.

According to the roadmap, from 29 March, outdoor gatherings of up to six people (the rule of six) or two households will be allowed.

From 29 March, we are happy to once again support litter picking activity in small groups of up to six volunteers, or two households and loan out equipment. If you do wish to loan out equipment please fill in the request form via the community litter pick page giving us at least 10 days’ notice.

Please note: Government guidance on the lockdown may tighten or ease over time so please keep yourself up to date with our current guidelines. This guidance may be superseded by any subsequent changes in government legislation and/or guidance. Please continue to monitor the guidance and any local restrictions that may come into force via our community litter pick web page.

Thank you for your continued support and cooperation.

Guidance for Volunteer Litter Pickers

Individuals and groups acting as volunteer litter pickers can be exposed to a number of easily avoidable hazards. Before you take part in any litter pick we ask that all volunteers read this guidance to make their involvement safe and enjoyable.

+ Protective Clothing and Equipment

  • The following items should be used at all times by volunteers undertaking litter picks:
  • Reflective hi-visibility waistcoats to clearly highlight volunteers to traffic and pedestrians.
  • Litter pickers to avoid direct contact with litter and repetitive bending.
  • Gloves to minimise contact with and noxious or dangerous materials.
  • Suitable footwear and clothing
  • Reflective hi-visibility waistcoats and litter pickers can be provided by the Council, subject to availability.

+ General Site Safety and Inspection

  • Litter picking of areas beside roads should be carried out with extreme caution due to the risk of being struck by vehicles. Therefore we request that you do not litter pick on a road that has a speed limit over 40 mph.
  • Litter picking should be restricted to only where there are wide verges or pavements, suitable for pedestrians, and should be carried out facing oncoming traffic. It is essential that volunteers are visible to road users, for that reason, hi-visibility waistcoats must be worn and litter picks should only take place in clear daylight.
  • Volunteers should not attempt to clear litter from the carriageway.
  •  Avoid reaching into hedges or undergrowth in such a way as to expose the face, eyes and skin to scratches from thorns or branches. If an item of litter cannot be safely reached with a litter picker, leave it.
  • Avoid working close to rivers or on steep slopes, as there is an increased risk of slips and falls. When working close to ditches, avoid reaching into the ditch to remove litter, unless it can be safely reached with a litter picker.
  • Be mindful of wildlife. In the spring time avoid disturbing animals and birds that may be nesting and in the summer time be wary of wasp and bee nests.
  • Do not enter an area, or attempt to litter pick an area, where works are restricted (for example road works) or where the public do not have a right to entry. Do not enter private land or property to remove litter.
  • The level of risk will vary at each location, so prior to commencing a litter pick, it is recommended that a visual site inspection and risk assessment is carried out to establish the above risks and to identify and note other possible hazards.
  • Volunteers have a duty towards themselves, fellow volunteers and the public to work safely. If there is any doubt about the safety of a site or material, then it should be avoided.

+ Lifting and Handling Materials

Volunteers should be aware of the risk of injury by carrying bags of collected litter and attempting to lift and carry heavy materials.
To avoid injury, the following basic principles of manual handling should be applied:

  • Use litter pickers to prevent constant bending and stretching.
  • Make sure an item is safe to handle with no sharp edges or noxious contents.
  • Decide if an item can be safely moved either by one or two people.
  • Only try to move an item if this can be done so without straining.
  • When lifting an item, bend the legs and keep the back straight

+ Collection and Disposal of Litter

Volunteers are asked to re-use supermarket carrier bags, or similar, to collect litter, as this does not involve an additional cost to supply bags and it is environmentally friendly to re-use these bags. It also ensures that the volumes of litter collected are manageable to handle.

Where possible, litter collected should be disposed of by volunteers through their own refuse/recycling collections. If this is not possible, then volunteers are asked to take the litter to their nearest Household Waste Recycling and Centre.

Volunteers are not expected to separate recyclable items of litter, but if they are willing to do so this, it would be welcomed. The recyclable items should be added to the volunteers’ recycling bin (where clean and acceptable) or taken to their nearest recycling point.

For one-off litter picks, where larger quantities of litter are likely to be collected, the Council can supply bags and arrange for the litter collected to be disposed of after the event.

+ Young Volunteers

While it is beneficial to get young people involved in litter picks, age plays a big part in the ability to recognise and avoid risk. Accordingly, volunteers under the age of 18 should be supervised by an adult and permission for their participation should be gained from a parent or guardian. In the interest of safeguarding children, adults supervising or working with volunteers under the age of 18 should be Criminal Record Bureau checked.

+ Loaning of Equipment

Due to the current restrictions we will not be loaning out any litter picking equipment until the current restrictions have been lifted and we have been advised that it is safe to do so.

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, Ashford Borough Council, therefore the Council will not be held responsible for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of the actions and omissions of volunteers or this guidance.

If you are concerned about litter in a particular area, then please report this concern to us via the Report page

Frequently Asked Questions


+ Who does Ashford Borough Council loan equipment to?

Ashford Borough Council will loan equipment and provide refuse and recycling bags free of charge, to borough residents who are organising community litter picks.

+ What equipment can I borrow?

Litter pickers (long-handle grabbers), high visibility vests in adult and child sizes, pairs of protective gloves in adult and child sizes, and bag hoops are available.  Stocks are limited and equipment is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so please submit your request at least ten working days before your event.

+ How do I dispose of the collected litter?

We offer a free pick-up and disposal of collected litter from an agreed location; you can choose this when you complete the application form. If you wish to dispose of the litter yourself, we ask that you do so responsibly at a local tip and recycle as much as possible.

+ What precautions should I take to keep people safe?

Litter picking can be hazardous. We advise you to undertake a full risk assessment before the event, which includes both the area to be cleaned and any limitations of those taking part; you can then put measures in place to reduce or remove any risk.

Protective clothing should be worn. We recommend that you arrange public liability insurance too. We do not support any event that involves litter picking on public roads where the speed limit is greater than 30 miles per hour. All our equipment is checked before being loaned but it would be sensible for you to check again as you hand it out.

+ If I don't need equipment or waste collection, should I still tell you about my event?

We would like to know about any litter picking event in the borough, even if you do not need any help from the council; we keep a count of the number of events held to demonstrate your pride in the borough.  Litter picks are entered on our internal diary. We can inform you if anyone else is arranging an event in your area around the same date and so you may choose to re-book your event or choose a different area.