The European Litter Prevention Association

Managing litter: how professionals use scientific measurement to make progress

23 June 2017

Litter reporting Apps have grown in popularity in the past few years, but professional litter monitoring is not about outsourcing the spotting of litter items to would-be benevolent citizens who would track bottle caps, wrappers and cigarette butts left and right whenever they feel like playing LitterMan GO. Professional monitoring is done by litter prevention experts (from municipalities and many kinds of litter prevention organisations) out in the streets and parks measuring the incidence of litter in a systematic and regular way.

Once per month or once per quarter, experts return to a group of specific locations where they will methodically select a surface area to represent the area they are measuring, before carrying out and recording the actual measurements for future record. Mature litter prevention organisations have been measuring and monitoring litter for decades now in order to be able to measure the effectiveness of the measures they put in place and focus on the more significant problem areas they identify.

In order to collect systematic and robust data, several measurement systems have emerged over the years across Europe. In the past couple of years, the members of the Clean Europe Network pooled their expertise to create a universal measurement system that combines the best of each. On top of the added convenience and sophistication this new system will give to more advanced litter prevention organisations and municipalities, other litter prevention experts who haven’t had the resources to take up monitoring activities yet will find this common solution would make it significantly easier to do so, thereby allowing them to evaluate the effectiveness and better target their ongoing litter prevention efforts.

We are collecting feedback as to what kind of information professionals would find most valuable in their monitoring roles so that we can take all this into account in the production of the App that will make our monitoring system available to all. We already received some useful feedback from many of you in the survey (still open) we sent out last week and are very grateful for your participation. Litter prevention can only be successful as a collective effort.