Readers deliver tough litter message to Royal Mail

Hedgehogs are among the many animals that can be harmed by discarded elastic bands. Picture: MECHA

Hedgehogs are among the many animals that can be harmed by discarded elastic bands. Picture: MECHA MORTON - Credit: Mecha Morton

From Tendring to Sudbury, Aylsham - and everywhere in between - the region has a message for postmen and women: stop littering our streets with elastic bands.

After writing last week about the numbers of rubber bands - used by Royal Mail to bundle letters together but often thrown away by postal workers on their rounds - I collected from the streets around my home, I’ve been contacted by readers with stories about the same problem.

Read more: Rubber band waste costs Royal Mail and litters our streets

One of the worst was from Jo, who emailed to say she had heard a woman in her local Royal Mail office complaining her dog died after eating discarded bands.

Derek Tomkinson has collected hundreds in the Aylsham area, from where another resident, Helen Copperthwaite, wrote in to say: “Since we lost our sorting office, a Royal Mail van parks in our private road in order for staff to begin their walking routes.

“Not a problem - except for the rubber bands. I pick them up, largely because of them affecting wildlife. I have accumulated 279. I occasionally reuse one but will never reuse them all.”

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Keith Garwood, who lives in north Essex, collected 93 bands in 30 minutes, which he returned to Royal Mail. “Three days later I collected another 17 and actually spotted a postman throwing them down. He apologised and said he must have dropped them, accidently...”

Anthony Simpson says the problem in parts of Sudbury is “a disgrace” while Shirley Penfold, from Diss, thought Royal Mail needed to do more and was worried about the risk to wildlife, as was a reader from Downham Market, who suggested Royal Mail put a collecting device in vehicles to encourage reuse. Coincidentally, Stowmarket-based hedgehog rescue charity Poppy’s Creche tweeted recently, asking posties not to drop bands as they can look like worms to hedgehogs.

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The problem seems to be a nationwide waste of Royal Mail’s cash and an environmental and PR disaster.

The company says it uses around 338 tonnes of bands a year and in 2016-17 reduced the number purchased by 8% through reuse.

It asks postmen and women to return all rubber bands.

Keep your elastic band stories coming here.

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