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Clean-up preparation and safety advice

Before you start your clean up, there are a few things you should consider. We’ve put together this advice for those attending an organised clean-up, or anyone who is doing their own thing, but please note that Keep Britain Tidy is not responsible for (and will accept no liability to you for) any losses or damages you incur or suffer in connection with your participation in the Great British Spring Clean 2019 or #LitterHeroes campaign, save to the extent that such liability cannot be limited or excluded by law.

Please, attempt only what is within your personal capabilities and be sure to take regular rest breaks. Two to three hours of litter-picking is usually enough.


You’ll need the right equipment to help you successfully and safely complete a clean-up.

If you’re attending an organised clean-up, your host should have arranged equipment in advance of the clean-up.

Please ensure you have considered the weather and are wearing suitable clothing/ shoes, and have enough to drink. If it is warm, consider suncream/ hats.

If you are doing your own thing, or your host asks you to provide your own equipment, we have a couple of suggestions:

Wilko, a headline sponsor of the Great British Spring Clean, is stocking a range of litter-pickers, high-vis vests, hand sanitiser and gloves in store to help people get prepared for the country’s biggest ever clean-up. Find your nearest store

Alternatively, your local council recycling officer may be able to loan you the equipment you need. This year, we asked every local authority to provide us with information about whether equipment can be borrowed, so please check our website for more information.


If possible, please separate the litter you find into three bags so as much as possible can be recycled:
1. Plastic bottles
2. Aluminium cans
3. General waste.

Don’t forget, if you come across any coffee cups during your clean (any brand), you can take them into any Costa Coffee or participating McDonalds UK stores where they will be collected for recycling.



If you attend an official clean-up, your host should have undertaken a risk assessment, and should provide you with a safety briefing.

However, it is important that everyone thinks about safety and understands how to keep themself safe.

We recommend that you avoid:

  • Potentially hazardous objects such as unidentified cans or canisters, oil drums and chemical containers.
  • Sharp objects such as broken glass and disposable BBQs – these should be collected in separate containers not litter bags.
  • Clinical waste such as needles/syringes – inform the organiser and arrange for safe disposal.
  • Hazardous areas such as deep or fast-flowing water, steep, slippery or unstable banks, sharp rocks, derelict buildings, busy roads and electric fences (which are identified by yellow warning signs).
  • Working alone – try to stay in sight and earshot of others but if not possible then let someone know where you’ve gone and when to expect you back.

To avoid illness from poor hygiene, all those taking part in the clean-up must:

  • Wear heavy-duty, protective gloves at all times
  • Cover any cuts (however minor) with surgical tape or a waterproof plaster
  • Keep hands away from mouth and eyes while litter-picking
  • Wash hands and forearms before eating, drinking, smoking or going to the toilet.


Lifting heavy items could be hazardous. Consider whether it’s practical for volunteers to remove them, or whether they would be best removed by the local council.


If dangerous, poisonous or hazardous items are present, contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.

If syringes are spotted at any stage during your clean-up, do not attempt to move them yourself. Make a note of their location and inform your local council.
If you see someone fly tipping or come across hazardous waste, report it to the Environment Agency on its 24-hour hotline or, alternatively, contact the police.


Before going onto any land, make sure that you have permission from the land-owner. If you are attending an organised clean-up, your host should have done this in advance.


Children should be accompanied by a responsible adult when taking part in a clean-up.

Before your clean-up, make sure children understand which items are potentially dangerous and should not be picked up. Teach children that if they are in any doubt they should ask a grown up before picking the litter up.

It’s important that children are provided with gloves and wear suitable clothing and footwear. Don’t let children pick for more than one hour at a time.

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