Litter on motorways and major A roads

Litter puts road users and the people who have to pick it up at risk. It also threatens wildlife living alongside our roads. Dealing with litter takes valuable resources away from other work.

Report litter on our network

You can report litter on our roads online, as well as other maintenance issues. You'll need to identify the location of the problem - or let our system use the location of your device.

Report litter

Our Litter Strategy

Our Litter Strategy describes how we'll discourage littering by:

  • improving our litter collecting
  • being more responsive to customer feedback
  • working with our partners

Read National Highways Litter Strategy - Our approach.

What roads do we clear litter from?

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, we're responsible for collecting litter on:

  • England’s motorways
  • a small number of major A roads (also known as all purpose trunk roads)

Local authorities are responsible for collecting litter on other roads.

We pick thousands of bags of litter from our road network every month. As well as this, we also take part in extra activities each year:

How do we plan litter picking?

We plan our litter picking activity carefully, like all our maintenance work. We usually combine litter picking with our other routine activities to:

  • keep our workers safe
  • minimise disruption to road users
  • manage costs

When do we pick litter?

Where litter or debris is a hazard to road users (such as tyre debris in live lanes), we'll use emergency measures to prioritise its removal.

We have a robust system in place to tackle litter. Our teams carry out patrols and collect litter daily as we strive to keep our network tidy.

Our Inspectors regularly survey and grade the network according to The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Code of practice for litter and refuse. This Code gives the standards we must meet, including returning degraded areas to their required standard where practical.

There are several litter ‘hotspots’ on our network. These are the most problematic areas in terms of repeat littering. We clear these hotspots more regularly.

We'll also consider additional anti-litter measures at hotspots - such as signing or additional bins. Combined with our weekly inspections, this helps us prioritise the worst affected areas.

We welcome feedback from the public to report litter on our roads.

Why do we need to close lanes for litter picking?

Our litter-pickers need to be safe, especially when working next to live traffic.

However, we know closures can cause delays and inconvenience.

We balance safety considerations against disruption to road users and cost when considering closures.

If it's safe for us to work without closures, we'll do so.

Where possible, we combine litter picking with other maintenance work to minimise inconvenience.

How do we work with local authorities?

We make sure that local authority litter picking is smoothly coordinated with other maintenance work on our roads.  

We're working in partnership with a number of local authorities so we can work together to improve efficiency and reduce disruption.

What else are we doing?

We need to do more to combat litter by changing the behaviour of people who feel it's alright to drop it.

We work with various bodies and anti-litter organisations, including Keep Britain Tidy, to tackle litter and make it socially unacceptable.

Together with our partners we're researching various ways of influencing a change in littering behaviour.

At the same time, we'll improve our customer service through a combination of clearance and campaigns to discourage littering.  

We've funded a number of anti-litter measures including:

  • drive-up, window height bins at car and lorry park exits, so road users can get rid of litter without leaving their vehicle
  • 'Geo Fencing' - targeted messages encouraging road users to dispose of litter correctly when they enter a certain area (like a layby)
  • innovative cleaning techniques, like industrial vacuums
  • time lapse cameras to monitor littering
  • anti-littering signs and posters
  • specific company 'litter champions' and steering groups that focus on ways to prevent littering and improve clearance times
  • communications campaigns