The Elastic Band

In Post in the World, Post Moment on June 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm

A-ball-made-of-red-rubber-001From the Guardian Thursday 25th June 2009

Rubber bands dropped by postal workers collected by public

More than 13,000 discarded red rubber bands will be sent back to the Royal Mail by an anti-litter campaign after being scooped off the streets by members of the public.

In one of the biggest exercises of its kind, people throughout the UK collected the bands – dropped by postmen on pavements and in doorways – after a national campaign by Keep Britain Tidy.

In April the organisation warned postal workers they could face on-the-spot fines of up to £80 (rising to £2,500 if a case went to court) if they were caught dropping the familiar red bands, which are used to hold bundles of letters. It asked people to collect any bands found on pavements and driveways and the charity is now set to bounce them back to Royal Mail in a giant see-through envelope. 

Dickie Felton of Keep Britain Tidy said: “We were amazed that our campaign caused such a commotion. We received hundreds of letters stuffed with red rubber bands from across the country. Clearly people are fed-up with posties carelessly throwing these bands on the floor. We accept that dropping an elastic band is hardly the worst littering offence in the world, but nonetheless it is litter.”

Felton said the bands were an eyesore when strewn on the ground, but also posed a serious choking danger to pets and wildflife.

Keep Britain Tidy is now set to return all 13,000 rubber bands to Royal Mail in a giant envelope to highlight the scale of the problem and allow them to be reused. Royal Mail currently spends an estimated £1m every year replacing rubber bands.

Felton added: “We are pleased that Royal Mail has acknowledged that this is a problem. Our campaign was covered in Royal Mail’s internal newspaper Courier and we hope that Royal Mail continues to communicate to employees that dropping rubber bands is unacceptable.”

Keep Britain Tidy has also today written to Royal Mail's chief executive with the offer of a meeting to further discuss the problem and ways to tackle it.


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