Revolutionising Data Collection on Litter: RECOUP’s Litter Composition & Pathways Project

Revolutionising Data Collection on Litter: RECOUP’s Litter Composition & Pathways Project

Littering is a widespread issue that affects our environment daily. Shockingly, Keep Britain Tidy estimates that more than two million pieces of litter are dropped in the UK daily, leaving our streets and natural spaces untidy and uncared for.

In response to the growing concern over litter pollution, the UK government, industry leaders, and stakeholders are calling for better data and evidence to inform policy decisions and drive effective solutions. This is where RECOUP, a charity and leading authority in the resources and waste sector, steps in with an exciting new initiative: The Litter Composition & Pathways Project (LCPP).

The Need for Improved Data on Litter

The demand for better data on litter has become crucial for making informed decisions and developing effective environmental policies. Proposed reforms to reduce litter rely heavily on accurate and robust data sets. A comprehensive understanding of litter composition is essential to assess the impact of these reforms and determine the most effective strategies for curbing litter pollution. However, current litter projects often face limitations in data collection methods, leading to a lack of consistency and reliability. Many studies rely on citizen science, which, while valuable, may not always provide the most reliable data.

Introducing RECOUP’s Litter Composition & Pathways Project

In response to the urgent need for better litter data, RECOUP has launched the Litter Composition & Pathways Project (LCPP). The project’s primary goal is to review, challenge, and provide robust evidence regarding litter composition. To achieve this, RECOUP aims to develop a standardized, evidence-based methodology for collecting and analysing litter, creating a comprehensive data set. Peer reviewing of the methodology will ensure the reliability and validity of the collected data.

AI Technology in Litter Analysis

Developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology have seen investigations into its use to analyse the composition of litter and binned materials. As part of this project, RECOUP will explore the possibilities around AI technology and its potential to be a highly efficient, highly effective option for generating scalable data on litter.

Progress and Next Steps

Although the LCPP is still in its early stages, RECOUP has already made significant strides. A draft methodology for litter collection and sorting has been developed and is ready for testing and peer reviewing. The initial phase of analysing litter through AI technology has also taken place. To further enhance the project’s capabilities, RECOUP is in the process of establishing a dedicated “Litter Lab” at their offices, where advanced litter analysis will be conducted.

RECOUP plans to collaborate with local litter-picking groups to collect litter for analysis. Once the methodology is finalised and the data is collected, it will be shared with the UK government, devolved administrations, and key stakeholders to inform and advise policy decisions. The evidence-based insights gained from this project will aid in developing targeted interventions to combat litter pollution effectively.

A Vision for the Future

With RECOUP’s Litter Composition & Pathways Project underway, the future looks promising for a more data-driven and effective approach to tackle litter pollution. Establishing a standardised methodology, RECOUP is paving the way for informed policy decisions and comprehensive litter management strategies. The organisation’s dedication to protecting the environment and advancing the circular economy continues to make them a trailblazer in the resources and waste sector.

As the LCPP progresses, we can expect even greater insights into the composition of litter, opening the door for a cleaner and more sustainable future. Together, through collaborative efforts and evidence-based actions, we can truly make a difference and become responsible stewards of our planet. Stay tuned for updates on RECOUP’s Litter Composition & Pathways Project as they embark on this inspiring journey towards a litter-free world.

Participate in Litter Collection: RECOUP will collaborate with local litter-picking groups to collect litter for analysis. If you would like to contribute to the development of a cleaner and greener future, please email us at
Stay Updated: Follow RECOUP’s website and social media channels for regular updates on the LCPP’s progress and findings.

Read more news from RECOUP here.

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