One-in-five (21%) Northern Irish adults admit to being part of the litter issue, with people across the UK found to be dropping it in the street (44%), in the park (23%) and in rural areas (21%) in the last three months.
A fifth of 26 to 40-year-olds said they had littered in front of their children.
McDonald’s is partnering with litter organisations and local authorities to clamp down as it is revealed
As lockdown measures lift, images across the country have shown a sharp increase in the prevalence of litter.
After a significant rise in sightings of McDonald’s packaging irresponsibly discarded in parks and towns across Northern Ireland, the company has joined councils, litter groups and other businesses in urging people to take responsibility for their own rubbish in a new campaign.
Alarming new research showed as many as one-in-five people from Northern Ireland (21%) have littered in lockdown, and over the last three months, with almost half (47%) of 18 to 25-year-old’s admitting to dumping rubbish in streets, in parks and rural areas at some point.
Young adults (18 to 34-year-olds) were some of the worst offenders, having confessed to throwing waste out of car windows (9%), leaving packaging after a BBQ or picnic (10%), and finding excuses such as not being able to time to find a bin (12%).
In fact, one-in-five (19%) litterers refuse to carry their rubbish around with them. Almost all over 55s (99%) say they dislike those who litter, even though some 17% admit to doing it themselves.
Aimed at confronting personal responsibility, the campaign features the slogan ‘Get in the Bin’ - usually used for someone who is talking rubbish. But with 29% of Northern Irish calling out strangers for littering, McDonald’s UK is asking everyone to make a stand.
Beth Hart, vice president supply chain and Brant Trust, McDonald’s UK and Ireland said: “For over 35 years our restaurant teams have patrolled the towns and cities in which we operate collecting left behind litter.
"Our employees walk over 5,000 miles every week picking up all waste – our packaging and that of other retailers – by the sides of roads, in parks and on paths. It is deeply disappointing that so many people act so irresponsibly.
"Over the last few months, we have seen how important collective responsibility is and we want the Great British public to help us tackle this dreadful and growing problem.
"Most of our packaging is recyclable, and whilst our dining areas remain closed, we want to see all customers taking their litter home and recycling or disposing of it responsibly.”
The campaign will use social media, media partnerships and support from Governing bodies and litter groups to call out litterbugs.
The adverts will show what life could be like if litter took over the world of the young adult, including natural beauty spots, computer games, football pitches and dating apps strewn with litter to highlight the refusal to deal with rubbish.
The issue is so bad that Northern Ireland Minister of Agriculture and Environment Edwin Poots has turned his hand to helping pick litter.
“Littering is unacceptable, unsightly and harmful to the environment," he said.
"Only last week I saw first-hand the scale of the problem as I collected litter from the River Bann. I welcome any initiatives which seek to tackle this.”