Durham City hosts UK launch of innovative litter app

Feb 27, 2023 | Leisure & Lifestyle

A mobile app that rewards residents and visitors for picking up litter has been launched in Durham City as part of the county’s commitment to becoming a sustainable destination.

UnLitter UK encourages people to play their part in maintaining clean and green communities by offering rewards from local businesses in return for disposing of litter responsibly. As well as being good for the environment, the scheme will help to boost the county’s economy by directing people towards the businesses involved in the scheme.

Visit County Durham, Durham County Council’s tourism service, has been selected to pilot the app in Durham City in partnership with  UnLitter UK’s creator, Unbox the Universe. It follows a successful scheme in Belgium, where more than three million people across 581 towns and cities are now using the app.

UnLitter UK was officially launched at Durham BID’s popular Fire and Ice Festival in Durham City. The free app, which is available to download on App Store and Google Play, provides a platform for people to record the litter they collect simply by uploading a photograph from their smart phone. The pilot will run for three months.

Environmentalist Vivek Gurav, whose passion for plogging (jogging and picking up litter) has inspired people across the UK, was among the first to test it out.

Vivek said: “Litter is a national problem that affects us all, and I believe that community action is the key to solving it. We are taking an innovative approach to tackle this issue. By working together, we can make a real difference and create cleaner, greener communities.”

Cllr Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “We have a beautiful county and are determined to keep it looking its best for all those who live and work in, and visit County Durham. Tourism contributes hundreds of millions of pounds to our economy each year, with events such as the Fire and Ice Festival attracting thousands of visitors and enhancing the vibrancy of communities, so it is vital we make a positive impression.

“We are therefore pleased to be working with Unbox UK to pilot this innovative app in Durham. Not only will it help to maintain a clean environment for residents and visitors, but it will support local businesses too. It also supports our approach to tackling littering and environmental crime. This involves education, anti-litter campaigns and the Big Spring Clean, along with issuing more than 1,000 Fixed Penalty Notices for those dropping litter. All these actions highlight our commitment to keeping County Durham tidy.”

Rachel Breeze, head of Unbox UK: “Unbox the Universe’s Litter Solution app, UnLitter UK, is more than just an app to help clean up litter, it’s an innovative reward system that encourages users to take action in their communities.

“With each piece of litter picked up and properly disposed of, users are rewarded with ‘Circular Ucoins’ that can be redeemed for real-world rewards. It’s a fun and easy way to make a positive impact and create lasting change.

“We are excited to collaborate with Visit County Durham to launch the UnLitter UK app and drive positive change in our communities by encouraging sustainable habits and supporting local businesses. By directing spend to local merchants through the app, we hope to not only promote a clean environment but also help boost the local economy. We believe that everyone has a role to play in creating a greener future, and UnLitter UK is a powerful tool that empowers individuals to take action.”

To download the app, search for ‘UnLitter UK’ on App Store and Google Play.