Roadside litter: drivers can play a vital part in the solution

Roadside litter: drivers can play a vital part in the solution

MotorEasy highlights the growing issue of litter on verges and what road users can do to help reduce damage to the environment

Exasperation with the growing problem of litter on English roads has sparked a Clean Up Britain campaign calling for National Highways to do more to keep our roads free of litter. A taxpayer funded organisation, National Highways has a statutory duty to keep England’s motorways and major A roads clean. Still, campaigners claim it is failing and are taking the organisation to court. MotorEasy, a leading car ownership solution, is urging road users to play their part in keeping the UK's roads litter-free and protecting the environment.

Key stats

  • Between April 2020 and March 2022, 45,000 bags of rubbish weighing 451 tonnes were collected from the M6 motorway
  • During a five-day period in 2023, one local council collected 1,000kg of litter and 17,360kg of debris on a stretch of the A3 and A331 in Surrey
  • Teams of National Highways litter pickers go out clearing its roads every day, collecting 'tens of thousands of bags of rubbish every year' and costing £1 billion each year
  • RSPCA has received over 10,000 reports of animals found injured, trapped or dead from discarded litter in last 3 years – nearly 10 per day [1]
  • Since 2018, councils have been able to issue a £150 fixed penalty charge notice to anyone seen throwing litter from a vehicle
  • A driver was recently fined £1,500 for littering after he failed to attend court

Duncan McClure Fisher, CEO of Intelligent Motoring, the parent company of MotorEasy, commented: “The figures are shocking, as is the clean-up bill. Not only does the litter make our roads messy and present a risk of damage to vehicles, but it is also an environmental hazard. Footage of sea turtles with plastic straws stuck in their noses and fish tangled in plastic waste has helped to change our behaviour, and now it is time we made simple changes for the sake of the wildlife living closer to home, alongside our roads. The RSPCA has reported rescuing animals stuck in plastic bottles and injured by cans found at the roadside, for example.

“Organisations tasked with keeping our roads clean cannot keep up, and trying is costing them too much tax-payer money. This is of course an easily avoidable issue, and we can all play a part in helping to clean up our roads and protect our local environment.”

On a 70-metre section of verge on the A3 in Surrey, where the road meets the M25, pickers recently collected 35 vapes, 79 drinks cans, 38 coffee cups, 39 sandwich packets, handfuls of nitrous oxide capsules (these were banned in November 2023) and five soiled nappies, plus countless cigarette butts. National Highways reports that the fly-tipping of construction rubbish is a growing problem. Ironically, its roadworks signs and sandbags are also often found abandoned.

Keep Britain Tidy is rolling out its 'Don't be a Tosser' anti-litter campaign to urge discount councils to remind drivers of the £150 litter fine and that littering is anti-social. To help would-be litterers think twice, Clean Up Britain is campaigning for fines to be drastically increased to £1,000 and six points on a drivers’ licence when they have littered on the move.

How drivers can take action

  • Stop it: Don't drop litter. Always use a bin or take litter home if no suitable bin is available, or if the only bin is full.
  • Report it: Drivers can report a litterer to the local authority, providing as many details as possible and dashcam footage if available. To report litter on National Highways roads, email
  • Pick it up: If you want to help the clean-up effort, visit Keep Britain Tidy or CleanupUK for details of its volunteer litter picker meet-ups. Alternatively, check your local Facebook community page for other groups near you.