Covid: Bournemouth drones to help fight post-lockdown litter surge

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A “ground-breaking” pilot scheme will use drones to fight a predicted surge in post-lockdown litter this summer.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council wants to collect data to inform bin locations, street cleaning schedules and change visitor behaviour.

The authority said it aimed to create “the most scientifically robust litter survey ever undertaken in the UK”.

The scheme is a partnership with fast food giant McDonald’s and environmental charity Hubbub.

Thousands of people visited Bournemouth when the first lockdown was eased in June, and the council expects to see “exceptional” numbers when current restrictions end.

“Cutting-edge technology will identify and categorise individual pieces of litter, to give unprecedented insight into what types of litter is being dropped where and when,” it said.

Fixed cameras, as well as mobile and vehicle technology, will also help create “litter maps” and identify hot spots, the council added.


Bournemouth pier 25 June 2020


The technology was reportedly used in the Italian town of Sorrento last summer, where it helped reduce litter by 45% and cigarette butt waste by 69%.

Councillor Mark Anderson said the scheme would be funded by McDonald’s and would have no cost to the council.

He said: “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.”

Drones started gathering data from beaches, parks, high streets and open spaces last week, the council said.

These surveys will also be repeated in May and July as the weather improves and lockdown restrictions are expected to be eased.

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