The European Litter Prevention Association

Safer Litter Clean-Ups

30 June 2020

Important Advice

June 2020 - Clean Europe Network member organizations have pooled their knowledge and experience to produce the first ever European guidelines for volunteer litter-pickers on how to carry out litter clean-ups in a safer way.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to exercise great care in avoiding the spread of infection through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects that we come across in our daily lives. Such care also applies when volunteers go out to clean up litter. The common European guidelines are designed to complement local virus containment programmes. Where these are in operation, the local rules and requirements should always be observed (e.g. on confinement and social distancing).

Today, in addition to the range of items that are often littered, we are now witnessing a small but growing number of discarded items of used personal protection equipment such as single use protective gloves and both single use and reusable masks and visors. These items carry a heightened risk of contamination with infectious pathogens including but not limited to coronavirus. . However, with the right precautions the risk can be minimized. The Network’s new guidelines explain how.

While caution is especially relevant in times of Covid-19, a safer approach should be taken to collection of litter at any time because there is always the risk that a discarded item may be either contaminated (e.g. with infectious pathogens or hazardous substances) or be intrinsically dangerous (e.g. broken glass, jagged metal objects, fireworks or syringes). With the right preparation and the right approach when out picking up litter, the danger is relatively low – but it is important to be careful at all times and avoid taking unnecessary risks.

The Guidelines can be downloaded here and click here for the guidelines in form of an user-friendly & practical infogram.