Cigarette butt on floor

Litter and lack of street cleaners hinder Manchester’s bid to be UK’s first tidy city by 2020

  • Single use plastics, cigarette butts and chewing gum highlighted as primary causes of 'untidy' city
  • Critics say council could use more eco-friendly ways to clean streets
  • Councillor admits council food outlets are not following good practice to tackle use of single-use plastics

Councillors have agreed that the city needs to take bolder steps if it is to achieve its aim of becoming the UK’s first ‘tidy city’ by 2020.

Discussions were held at the latest Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee at the town hall.

Chewing gum and cigarette butts were highlighted as key issues Manchester needed to tackle, as well as the notorious problem of single use plastics.

One councillor revealed that council food outlets, including the canteen in Manchester Town Hall, did not have good practice in place to combat single-use plastics and their disposal.

Bournemouth Council has already imposed a ban on single-use plastics

Councillor Julie Reid said “I was at a Labour conference this year and there was no plastic bottles of water sold at all. You literally had to go and use your own refillable cup. Although you think that its an inconvenience, it is initially but we’ll get used to it.”

It has also been reported that Manchester City Council could prevent wasting thousands of pounds if they were to consider eco-friendly alternatives.

Councillor Jon-Connor Lyons, who at 21 is Manchester’s youngest councillor,  told the Northern Quota there was an issue with chewing gum blighting the streets and that the council is being ‘reactive rather than proactive’ by paying thousands of pounds to industrial cleaning companies.

He suggested a more eco-friendly alternative for the council.

He said: “What I’d like to see done is for Manchester City Council to open up a partnership with Gumtec who work with several councils, universities, airports and other businesses across the UK to collect chewing gum and recycle it into reusable products.”

An ambassador for environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, who acted as a spokesperson for the organisation, spoke of their current initiatives but admitted that tackling the plights of chewing gum in Manchester’s streets is not one of them.

One of Keep Britain Tidy’s initiatives this year is to tackle the disposal of cigarette butts.

Keep Britain Tidy
Giant cigarette butts were used to tackle the disposal of cigarettes

Keep Britain Tidy is confident a positive outcome can be achieved but the meeting heard from one councillor wo said he had picked up almost 250 cigarette butts in a small area of his ward.

Both the council and Keep Britain Tidy made it clear that correct disposal is also about behaviour and that psychology plays a large part in tackling the problem.

Issues regarding littering dominated the meeting, with councillors also unhappy with increasing levels of fly-tipping and the way in which businesses such as takeaways dispose of their rubbish.

But Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, an executive member of the council committee, remained positive by reinstating that Manchester still aims to set the benchmark for other cities in becoming ‘Britain’s first tidy city by 2020’.