Sharp increase in littered laughing gas canisters reported by Keep Britain Tidy volunteers
and live on Freeview channel 276
Keep Britain Tidy hopes that new legislation will reduce the levels of carelessly littered nitrous oxide canisters dumped on roadsides, private land, parks and open spaces.
The Government will make the possession of nitrous oxide illegal from November 8.
Empty nitrous oxide canisters have become a litter and public safety concern, posing a potential danger to wildlife and young children.
The substance is used legitimately in the catering industry but misused as a psychoactive drug, with the resulting empty containers dumped on roadsides, private land, parks and open spaces afterwards.
Volunteers for the environmental charity’s RiverCare and BeachCare programme, which supports volunteers across East Anglia to care for their local waterways, are collecting growing numbers of industrial sized canisters during their litter picking events.
One group in Clacton, Essex, has collected an astonishing 2,000 of them in just 18 months – enough to fill a large skip.
The larger canisters contain around 80 times more nitrous oxide than the smaller silver ‘bullet’ style containers, which are also commonly littered throughout the UK.
Despite usually being 100% steel, which is recyclable, not all council facilities have the specialist knowledge and equipment needed to transport and process them, and their design means they are unable to be reused, often ending up in landfill instead.
Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive, Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, said: “As with any litter problem, preventing the litter at source is the most effective long-term solution but it is clear that this is a difficult, long-term challenge.
“We hope the new law will have a demonstrable impact on the levels of carelessly littered canisters in the environment.”
Lynsey Stafford, who manages Keep Britain Tidy's RiverCare and BeachCare programme, said: “Our volunteers, who work tirelessly to protect our environment, are frequently left with the responsibility of picking up discarded canisters from estates, parks and streets.
“They continue to be shocked at the number of discarded nitrous oxide canisters collected during community litter picks and hope legislation will help to tackle the issue.”