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Bournemouth to use drone data to combat litter

29/03/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council is planning to run a pilot scheme this summer using data from drones to improve its litter collections.

Flying drone

It is working with the environmental charity Hubbub and data specialists Ellipsis Earth, and backed by fast food chain McDonald’s, to test an approach using data to inform the future placement of bins, street cleaning schedules and behaviour change campaigns.

The council claimed this will be the most scientifically robust litter survey ever undertaken in the UK.

The BCP area became a focus for worries over public litter last summer, when thousands of people descended on its beaches at the end of the first pandemic lockdown.

As part of the pilot, drone cameras will be able to identify and categorise individual pieces of litter, providing insights into what types are being dropped where and when.

They will be used with fixed cameras and mobile and vehicle technology to create detailed litter maps, identifying hot spots and building an understanding of how the litter is travelling.

The technology was used in the Italian town of Sorrento last summer, where it enabled authorities to reduce litter by 45% and cigarette butt waste by 69%. This was done through communication campaigns with visitors and business owners and strategically placing new litterbins and ash trays across the town, based on the data collected.

Audit begins

Drones began flying over beaches, parks, high streets and open spaces in the BCP area last week to monitor the state of litter. The audit will be repeated in May as the weather improves and further lockdown restrictions ease.

Ellipsis Earth, a specialist in using data for environmental change which contributed to the project in Italy, will collate the data to feed into the council’s strategy.

Councillor Mark Anderson, portfolio holder for environment, cleansing and waste at BCP, said: “As part of the council’s £3.5 million summer readiness preparations, which includes littering, we are pulling out all the stops to make sure our beaches, town centres, parks and open spaces are ready for visitors. This will see extra large bins to deal with the additional waste and putting in place more daily collections, with manual crews on standby when the locations such as the promenade become busy.

“The pilot we are intending to run with Hubbub and McDonald’s will enhance that existing work. I’m really look forward to seeing the project get underway and the results we can all benefit from.”

Replicable campaign

Trewin Restorick, CEO and co-founder of Hubbub said: “We want to create a replicable campaign that can be used as a template for future projects in other locations. Collaboration is at the heart of this campaign, so we’re keen to get as many local businesses and community groups onboard to play their part.”

Ellie Mackay CEO and founder of Ellipsis Earth said: “We hope the public can also use our data to learn more about the impact of littering as well as seeing the direct impacts of their responsible actions.”

Soft drinks producer and McDonalds’ supplier Britvic is also funding the project along with two packaging suppliers.

Image from iStock, acceptfoto

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