BOURNEMOUTH, Christchurch and Poole will be the focus of a ground-breaking pilot scheme this summer which will see drone-based technology used to tackle the issue of litter.

BCP Council is partnering with environmental charity Hubbub and McDonald’s to trial a unique approach which will see intelligence gathered from drones to inform the future placement of bins, street cleansing schedules and behaviour change campaigns to encourage visitors to dispose of their litter responsibly.

The initiative will deploy new drone-based technology to help tackle the scourge of litter in what will be the most scientifically robust litter survey ever undertaken in the UK.

Councillor Mark Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Cleansing and Waste, BCP Council said: “We are delighted to have been invited to participate in this national collaboration, at no cost to the council, which will enhance our plans to tackle the issue of litter across our three towns.

“As part of the council’s £3.5million summer readiness preparations, which includes littering, we are pulling out all the stops to make sure our beaches, town centres, parks and open spaces are ready for visitors.

“The pilot we are intending to run with Hubbub and McDonald’s will enhance that existing work, I’m really look forward to seeing the project get underway and the results we can all benefit from.”

The campaign will use drones, fixed cameras and mobile and vehicle technology to create detailed litter maps, identifying hot spots and building an understanding of how the litter is travelling.

Thanks to funding from McDonald’s, 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.

Helen McFarlane, Senior Sustainability Consultant for McDonald’s, said: “We are thrilled to be funding this truly innovative campaign, along with some of our key packaging and drinks suppliers.

“Our teams have been carrying out litter patrols in our communities for nearly 40 years; this intervention is a real step-change allowing us to leverage technology and data to not only make clearing litter more impactful, but to help improve behaviour and encourage those people who do litter to act more responsibly.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Hubbub and BCP Council on this campaign and want to encourage other businesses and groups to join us.”

Last week, local residents in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole may have spotted the first drones flying over beaches, parks, high streets and open spaces.

The technology was used in the Italian town of Sorrento last summer, where it was hailed a huge success - enabling authorities to reduce litter by 45 per cent and cigarette butt waste by 69 per cent.

CEO and co-founder of Hubbub Trewin Restorick said: “We were really inspired by the impact of this technology which we’ve seen work so successfully in Sorrento.

“Basing behaviour change activity on real data will really help us maximise impact and we’re excited by what could be achieved. Litter continues to cause problems for authorities in every part of the country.

“We want to create a replicable campaign that can be used as a template for future projects in other locations.”

The audit will be repeated in May as the weather improves and further lock down restrictions ease.

This data will inform a series of litter-busting interventions over the course of the summer and a further survey will take place in July to assess the effectiveness of the actions taken.

The data collated by Ellipsis regarding litter trends, hotspots and behaviour will also play a vital role in longer term BCP bin strategy.

Ellie Mackay, CEO and founder of Ellipsis Earth, said: “Bournemouth is a beautiful and much-loved location that is in critical need of littering data so we are thrilled to be able to deliver this UK-first smart survey, and to highlight the power of using advanced technology for environmental protection and behaviour change.

“The deep analysis of the data will provide recommendations to help keep litter levels within manageable levels this summer and beyond.

“We hope the public can also use our data to learn more about the impact of littering as well as seeing the direct impacts of their responsible actions.”