Statutory guidance

Litter and refuse: code of practice

This code seeks to outline in more detail what might be considered by a court of law to be practicable on different types of land.

Applies to England


Code of practice on litter and refuse

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The Environmental Protection Act 1990 imposes duties under section 89(1) and (2) on certain landowners and occupiers to keep specified land clear of litter and refuse, and on local authorities and the Secretary of State to keep clean public highways for which they are responsible.

This document provides a practical guide to the discharge of these duties and applies to England only.

Part 1 contains a code of practice (referred to throughout as ‘the Code’) issued under section 89(7) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Part 2 contains advisory standards for graffiti and fly-posting. Such defacement, even if partially removed, has an adverse affect on the quality of the environment and can lead to an increase in crime. Even if all of the litter and refuse were cleared,the public would perceive the area to be defaced if graffiti and/or fly-posting were still present.

Part 3 contains details of the legislative framework that surrounds this code of practice.

September 2019 update

The code of practice was updated to include Part 1A on enforcement guidance (published as a separate document on this page). We also published the modification note which details the changes made.

February 2022 update

Last year Defra laid regulations which made minor and technical changes to the Littering From Vehicles Outside London (Keepers: Civil Penalties) Regulations 2018 - the regulations which gave councils in England (outside London) the power to issue a civil penalty to the keeper of a vehicle from which litter is thrown.

These new regulations, which came into force on 14th February 2022, will ensure the process council’s should follow to recover unpaid penalties is consistent with other traffic enforcement regimes.

In particular, they introduce the step of an enforcement notice and set out the respondent’s right to challenge a court order on specified grounds through the filing of a witness statement. Section 11P.0 has been amended to reflect these changes

Published 1 April 2013
Last updated 14 February 2022 + show all updates
  1. We have updated Section 11P.0 of the Part 1A enforcement guidance to show recent changes to legislation. The February 2022 section of this page has details about these changes.

  2. Added the modification note, modified code of practice document and part 1A - enforcement guidance document.

  3. First published.