Litter Picking Drop-Ins – A New Approach to Litter Picking During Lockdown

We are all adjusting to the new normal, but what does that mean for litter picking? Gone are the days when we could arrange a community litter-picking event and invite as many people as possible to get involved. Now we must consider new legislation, distancing measures, and increased risks.

A new approach was needed and the idea of the litter picking drop-in’s stations was born. This concept has been installed by several local authorities across the UK and here at Helping Hand Environmental, we would like to share with you Manchester City Council’s Litter Picking Drop-Ins case study – in support of the Keep Manchester Tidy initiative and Keep Britain Tidy’s Love Parks campaign.

How does it work?

Initially the council selected a small number of parks to work in across the city. At each park set up a litter picking station. The local authority invited people to come along through social media and linked the activity to a wider campaign; Love Parks.

Setting out the station

The litter picking station itself was quite simple and comprised of;

  • A table with PPE and hand sanitiser
  • Litter pickers arranged individually (so people only touch the one they will use)
  • Bag hoops and bags
  • A container for people to deposit the equipment they have used
  • Sanitising wash and wipes to clean equipment after use
  • Promotional banner and flag promoting Keep Manchester Tidy
  • One or two friendly station managers to engage potential volunteers (at a distance)
  • Tape or small barrier to help maintain distancing at the station
  • An up to date risk assessment

Council staff manned the station and invited people to come along between 10 am and 2 pm. They could take equipment and pick litter for as long or as short a time as they wished. They asked that people acted as either solo litter pickers, social bubble litter pickers, or small group litter pickers of no more than six socially distanced people – making arrangements for people to either return collected litter to the station, or to other designated points across the City.

What worked well?

The litter picking stations were a success. This is what people liked about them:

  • Flexibility of being able to turn up to suit, as opposed to having to meet somewhere at a fixed starting time
  • Flexibility to pick for just a short while. This meant people didn’t feel guilty about leaving a group early or not doing enough for the group. People were also surprised about how much litter can be collected in a short space of time
  • Full compliance with coronavirus regulations
  • Greater inclusivity with no pressure to be part of a group – including  several disabled people getting involved who would not have otherwise have joined an organised litter pick.
  • Many of those who took a litter picker had conversions with other members of the public. This proved to be a good way to promote the profile of litter picking as a positive and valuable community activity. Volunteers told us how they were thanked for their litter picking work by passers-by.
  • We thought that when the public see volunteers doing litter picking, as opposed to paid council workers, it acts as a nudge for them to do the right thing and not drop litter. Volunteers agreed with this thought.

What Were the Challenges?

Manchester City Council faced very few challenges in using this approach. The weather being too wet or very hot did reduce the numbers of people visiting the station, but not significantly. They did have to remain vigilant about social distancing; when people became passionate about cleaning up they sometimes forgot that they needed to maintain their distance.

Keeping it Working

The local authority have continued to deliver litter picking through drop in stations. Partnering with their colleagues in Biffa to add information and resources about recycling to our stations and this has proved popular in attracting passers-by to visit the station.

2021 Plans

Manchester City Council’s  next plan is to use this approach to test litter-picking stations in district centres and other urban spaces and host the drop ins for corporate groups and large organisations to support their Keep Manchester Tidy initiative.

How we lent a Helping Hand to this project?

We have been Manchester City Council key supplier of sustainable litter clearance hand tools in support of their community engagement projects for over the last 10 years including Love Parks, Keep Manchester Tidy and their new Litter picking Drop In Stations.

Our safer litter collection range as helped Emma and her council colleagues to support their volunteers wth social distance litter picks safely – including our folding litter pickers, disenfectant sprays and NEW Handicart Duo helps to support safer litter segregation across the City.


Which Helping Hand Litter Picker Is Right For Me?

Clearing up litter is an ongoing responsibility for local authorities, facilities management companies and waste contractors as well as voluntarily by litter heroes for all ages. For those in charge or take on the challenge of such a fundamental task, access to high-performing and durable litter picking tools is vital.

That’s why so many customers across the world choose Helping Hand. We manufacture the World’s most sustainable litter picking tools which are 100% reusable; build and designed in Britain; direct from our factories in Herefordshire. No matter the environment or litter picking task; Helping Hand will have the ideal litter picker for you.

However, it can be difficult to identify the right tool at a glance. So we hope this handy guide helps you determine the ideal Helping Hand litter picker for your litter pick.

Litter picking during Lockdown? Are you a solo volunteers, who enjoys litter picking as part of your daily exercise routine or with your household/support bubble – please make sure you read the latest guide on litter picking during a national lockdown HERE

First question to ask yourself… What kind of litter will I be picking up?

Before deciding what Helping Hand litter picker to select, you may want to consider the types of litter you’ll be dealing with either on a daily or voluntary basis. For some, that may include fairly lightweight pieces of rubbish, including plastic bottle or food cartons or smaller items such as cigarette ends and chewing gum. For others, it may be heavier items, like glass, wet carboard, newspapers or waste that could pose a risk to health, like bio hazard, PPE litter face masks, wipes, disposable gloves, or even dog mess.

  • Plastic (bottles, packaging, crisp packets, bags, chewing gum..)
  • Paper (including cardboard, newspapers, magazines, coffee cups, fast food wrappers)
  • Glass
  • Cigarette butts
  • Dog poo and other hazardous waste
  • PPE litter – face masks, disposable gloves, wipes


Litterpicker Pro Standard Litter Picker Grabber – ideal for general litter picking

Litterpicker Pro Standard Litter Picker Grabber

The Litterpicker Pro Standard Litter Picker Grabber is our most popular product. It is a popular choice among frontline local authority staff and litter heroes. It is available in over 6 lengths; though the standard 33″ length is ideal for a variety of collection applications, including street cleansing, janitorial and volunteer litter picking activities. With a lightweight construction, trigger style application, an ergonomic PRO over moulded handle and grooved jaws, it can target both small and medium-sized pieces of rubbish. And for little litter heroes our Graptor Children’ Litter Picker Grabber is the prefect companion for any eco warrior!

Key Features: Easy-to-operate PRO handle; available in 6 lengths for different environments from 18″-10ft; grooved jaws offer a secure grip to pick up all types of general litter.

Lengths Available: 18″, 33″, 37″, 50″, 6ft, 8ft, 10ft


Streetmaster Pro Precision Litter Picker Grabber – ideal for picking up smaller items

Streetmaster Pro Precision Litter Picker Grabber

If the areas you clean are frequently plagued by small items of rubbish including chewing gum, mircoplastics and cigarette butts, then then Streetmaster Pro Precision Litter Picker Grabber is the tool for you. It features a rubber, tapered jaws that is capable of grabbing fiddly items with a precise, concentrated grip as well as an easy-to-operate PRO handle for continious use. Additionally, a key feature of the Streetmaster Pro is its 90 degree rotating swivel head – which can quickly fit into differently oriented spaces for fast and effective litter collection from confined spaces and the 18″  Tidy Jon Pro Precision Litter Picker Grabber perfect for this application!

Key Features: Precision jaws for tightly grasping small objects; comfortable, user-friendly Pro style handle; 90° rotating swivel head, available in 5 lengths for every application.

Lengths Available: 18″, 33″, 37″, 50″, 6ft


Ranger MAX Heavy Duty Litter Picker Grabber – ideal for tough litter collection jobs in any weather

Ranger MAX Heavy Duty Litter Picker Grabber

The Ranger MAX Heavy Duty Litter Picker Grabber is suitable for tough litter retrival . Its tong style one piece design allows users to exercise a stronger, more direct grip on the items they lift for effective heavy-duty litter collection. Thanks to its durable rubber jaw ends, it offers fantastic traction for grabbing wet items and has a bright reflective design which improves visibility of the user and the items they collect. It is also available in two handle choices – straight as standard or curved which some may find offers better comfort or leverage. Plus why not get the Ranger Recycle Kit, which extends the lifecycle of your litter picker by 300% making it 100% reusable everytime.

Key Features: Tong style one piece 35″ length for a more secure grip on heavy items; rubber jaw ends offer traction for lifting heavy or wet objects; available with a straight or curved handle, optional Recycle Kit available.

Length Available: 35″ only

Options: straight or curved handle, Ranger Recycle Kit


Safe Pick Pro Folding Litter Picker Grabber – Ideal for Solo Litter Picking/Daily Exercise Litter Picks

Safe Pick Pro Litter Picker Grabber

Specialised foldable design for safer litter collection or go anywhere litter picking  – the portable/collapsible Safe Pick Pro Litter Picker Grabber is robust yet easy to transport thanks to its super lightweight construction  . Available in two lengths 21.5″ short and standard 33″ folding. The Safe Pick Pro is portable, ideal for social distance litter picks as it enables volunteers to grab refuse items securely without having to get too close to them. Its jaws offer a strong grip and are shaped for versatile litter collection. This litter picker is great for taking with you when you are litter picking, of on your dog walk, hiking, paddle boarding or plogging too!

Key features: Extendable design; strong curved jaws for social distance applications; folding/collapsible design, portable in length for quick transportation to rapid response collection.

Lengths Available: 21.5″ or 33″


Lastly, We’re Here To Lend a Helping Hand

Whether you’re a professional or a litter picking volunteer, or just enjoying your daily exercise and helping your local environment – our range of sustainable litter picking equipment can make the task of cleaning up your local area easier with effective pick up every time. We have a designed and manufactured a tool at hand for every environment encompassing high quality British design and manufacture. And each one of our Helping Hand family of sustainable litter clearance hand tools is incredibly robust, hardwearing and 100% reusable, so you can get the most for your money, and support the environment too!

If we can be of any other further assistance, please feel free to give our friendly sales team a call on 01531 635678 or email


#RecycleWeek Winner Announced

It’s #RecycleWeek and this years’ theme is all about saying thank you to our key waste workers and recycling volunteers.

Thank you for all the nominations for our #RecycleWeek Handicart Duo Cart competition.
We had over 3,400 interactions across our social media pages and received some fantastic nominations from little #litterheroes; to community groups that are out Litterpicking every weekend; a Plastic Eco Warrior and families who litter pick every day – you are our #RecyclingHeroes – thank you.
But there could only be one winner and we are delighted to announced our #RecycleWeek competition winner is Robert James Butler (pictured) – many congratulations Robert – a Handicart Duo is on it’s way to you!
Robert received so many nominations from the residents of Sileby Parish Council about his litter picking efforts; a true #recyclinghero who is making a difference everyday.
Robert is also a key worker for Charnwood Borough Council (at weekends) supporting recycling collections across the borough – but his passion is volunteer litterpicking in his Parish and with Sileby Environmental Conservation Volunteers – organising and undertaking a host of litter picks and recycling tasks. Without a car this task becomes even more of a challenge, so from everyone at Helping Hand Environmental, we really hope our Handicart Duo can make Recycling on the Go a little easier.
From everyone at Helping Hand Environmental, we would like to personally congratulate all the nominees for all the outstanding work you do – you are all winners making a difference. And if you would like to find out more about our range of litter segregation products, click HERE