Collaborative Post

A Mountain of Litter: New Data Shows UK Litters Enough Cigarette Butts Every Six Hours To Equal The Height Of Ben Nevis


Shocking data results have revealed the true impact of the growing UK Litter Crisis, with a shocking 23 pieces of litter being dropped in the UK every second.

Data found by outdoor clothing brand Regatta and Keep Britain Tidy, shows a staggering 244 million cigarette butts discarded as litter every year and that around 30% of all litter in the UK is smoking-related.

UK litter problem
Image by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


To put these figures into context, Regatta decided to take the number of cigarette butts that are irresponsibly disposed of and compare it against the height of Ben Nevis, the UK’s largest mountain.

Stacked up on top of each other, the weekly amount of cigarettes (4,692,307.69) would tower as high as 37,538.46m, which is 27.9 times the height of Ben Nevis. Whilst the yearly amount would add up to 1,451 times the height of Ben Nevis.

That means that on average enough cigarette butts are littered every six hours to equal the height of the UK’s tallest mountain. And in as little as 36 hours the UK litters enough cigarette butts to match Mount Everest.

And that’s from just one item of litter, the data shows millions of confectionary items, drinks and fast food are contributing to the crisis too.

In fact, according to Keep Britain Tidy, which exists to try to eliminate litter and end waste, two million pieces of rubbish are dropped every day across the country. That’s 23 items of rubbish being dropped every second on average.

And it’s not just the environment that will pay for every second the UK’s litter crisis is allowed to continue, as Keep Britain Tidy have revealed taxpayers are paying out £1bn every year to cover the cost of street cleaning. Meanwhile, RSPCA announced recently they receive an average of 14 calls a day about wildlife harmed by litter, and the organisation suggests that the actual number of animals affected by rubbish is likely to be much higher.

We all enjoy the great outdoors, and more recently with lockdown easing, people have been admiring all the UK has to offer more than ever. Regatta, therefore, hopes these shocking stats will encourage people to be mindful of littering.

According to the most recent Local Environmental Quality Survey of England carried out by Keep Britain Tidy, the top 10 types of litter found in the highest percentages of sites it examined are:

  1. Smoking-related litter 79%
  2. Confectionery packs 60%
  3. Non-alcoholic drinks related 52%
  4. Fast food-related 33%
  5. Alcoholic drinks related 25%
  6. Packaging 25%
  7. Snack packs 20%
  8. Vehicle parts 14%
  9. Discarded food/drink 12%
  10. Clothing 11.8%


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