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Litter picks


  1. Overview
  2. Planning your litter pick
  3. Risk assessment and safety
  4. Promotion
  5. Equipment
  6. Be considerate
  7. Insurance cover
  8. Regular litter picks
  9. Share your photos


If you'd like to organise a litter-pick up, we can provide you with all the information you will need.

We urge residents, businesses, schools and local communities to get involved by becoming litter aware and taking pride in the area they love.

Starting a litter pick up can make all the difference in South Tyneside.

It will make South Tyneside a nicer place to live, work and visit.

If you'd like to organise a one-off litter pick, South Tyneside Council will provide you with everything that you need to make it a success.

We can provide you with the right equipment, and collect your rubbish bags once you've finished.

Register your interest by emailing and a member of the team will get back in touch with you.

You will need permission to litter pick on private or public land.

Before carrying out a litter pick, contact South Tyneside Homes on 0300 123 66 33 to agree an area to clear.

You can report areas with lots of litter to the Council and the Council will remove the items, see report an issue.

Planning your litter pick

Decide on what you want to achieve with a litter pick.

Do you want to clean up a local landmark or tackle a 'grot spot'?

It is a good idea to identify some goals that the litter pick aims to achieve.

Always get permission from the landowner for your clean up activity.

The landowner could be the Council, or perhaps a farmer or local estate owner.

Keep Britain Tidy have put together guidance on clean-up preparation. Please read the guidance before carrying out any activity, see Keep Britain Tidy: Clean-up preparation and safety advice.

Some points to consider

  • How will you carry out your clean up, will it be a straight forward litter pick or a larger event tackling other issues besides litter?
  • Should refreshments or lunch be provided?
  • Is there a suitable rally point for the day, familiar to everyone, from where you can start and finish the event?
  • How will you get rid of the waste at the end of the event?
  • South Tyneside Council may be able to help with the disposal arrangements (please see above), or the waste can be taken to Middlefields.

Risk assessment and safety

It's important to organise a safe litter pick.

After choosing which site or sites you would like to clean up, you should visit the areas to carry out a risk assessment.

This looks at the possible harms and dangers that your volunteers might run into when carrying out the clean up, for example:

  • Unlabelled and unmarked cans and canisters, oil drums, poisons, insecticides, broken glass, syringes, condoms etc.
  • Slips, trips and falls, especially around water, steep banks, muddy holes
  • Roads, with heavy traffic, or waterways with deep or fast flowing water

If an area has too many risks for you and your team, leave the clearing of the site to the Council and choose another location.

A risk assessment form and guidance notes are available from the Council to help you successfully plan your event.

Keep Britain Tidy have a useful risk assessment template that you can use template risk assessment form.

Tips to keep it safe

  • Make sure everyone is aware of the potential dangers, such as items they should not be picking up, as identified in your risk assessment.
  • If you are involving local children, make sure there is a sufficient number of adults to supervise.
  • Before the litter pick make sure the children understand which items might dangerous and should not pick up. Be aware that some children may not listen to your warnings and so must be supervised, don't let children attempt to pick up heavy or bulky items.
  • With children try to do no more than an hour litter pick, if only adults are involved, attempt only what is in everyone's capacity and allow for rest.

Make sure people are dressed correctly

Those carrying out voluntary litter picks should make sure they have the appropriate protective clothing and equipment:

  • Suitable footwear which will protect their feet including sturdy rigid soles (no open toed footwear)
  • Sturdy gloves that will give protection
  • Hi-visibility coat or vest which can be seen by members of the public including drivers of vehicles
  • A set of litter pickers
  • Suitable clothing to do the task

How to deal with dangerous materials

You may find dangerous items when litter picking. These include, but not limited to:

  • Discarded syringes / needles or other drug related items - Do not touch these instead contact the Council / South Tyneside Homes on 191 427 7000 or 0300 123 6633 and someone trained in removing these will be sent.
  • Broken Glass - Only use your litter pickers to remove this and if there is a box or a container which this can be placed into do so - do not place glass in a litter bag
  • Asbestos or other unknown materials - these should not be moved by volunteers, contact the Council on 0191 427 7000


When drumming up support and volunteers for your clean up, you may want to look to other organisations who would be interested in making an impact on the local environment, such as schools, scouts, environmental groups or churches.

It is a good idea to try and involve as much of the local community as possible, and this can be done by:

  • social media
  • email
  • poster

Once your day is set for the litter pick, we can help promote your litter pick.

Visit Love South Tyneside and complete the event form. We may even pop along on the day to film the event!


The equipment required for the litter pick can depend on the nature, size and type of your event and the resources available to you.

Generally, the following items will be necessary;

  • Clean up equipment -  such as refuse sacks, litter pickers, gloves, wheelbarrows, rakes and shovels.
  • Safe containers - make sure you have a suitable container for broken glass or sharp materials which could rip plastic bags.
  • First Aid - make sure you have a trained first-aider on site with the appropriate equipment. Let your volunteers know who the first-aider is and where they can be found during the event. For larger events you may consider asking organisations such as St John Ambulance to provide help.
  • Rubbish removal - have available a skip or other means of removal for the rubbish you have collected.
  • Means of communication - make sure you can stay in contact with your volunteers
  • Protective clothing and equipment - your risk assessment will help you decide what safety equipment you need such as heavy duty gloves and high visibility clothing.

The Council may be able to provide some of this equipment.

Be considerate

If you are working on parks, in the country, in open spaces or in woodland, avoid disturbing animals and plants, particularly during nesting season.

Keep gates closed and avoid clearing natural 'rubbish' like stones, logs and weeds, they may look untidy but they may be home to animals and birds.

Before the litter pick you may wish to seek advice from the South Tyneside Council Countryside Officer at 0191 424 7423 or email

Insurance cover

Getting public liability insurance is very important and not very expensive.

This will provide cover for your legal liability from accidental damage or injury that happens during the event, including damage or injury to a member of the public or their property.

If you represent an organisation or school it is possible that you already have insurance in place, but it is important to check that clean ups are covered under such insurance.

Regular litter picks

If you regularly organise litter picks, or would like to champion the cause in your local area, let us know as we would love to promote your area and the work that you do.

South Tyneside Council will provide you with all the equipment you need, and we'll support your efforts by collecting your filled rubbish bags and promoting your organised events on social media.

Email and we'll get back in touch.

Share your photos

The little things really do make a big difference!

We would love to see your before and after pictures.

Share them on social media using #LoveSouthTyneside or tag @LoveSTyneside on Twitter.

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