The UK Royal Mail buys one billion rubber bands a year. So many are discarded on streets that they are a nationwide litter problem, and harm animals that eat them.Previous Fact Next Fact
ALMOST a billion elastic bands a year have to be bought by Royal Mail because so many are left littering the streets. The number of red bands used to bundle mail has more than doubled this decade, leaving the cash-strapped organisation with an annual bill of nearly £1million. The Record uncovered the figures after complaints about posties leaving paths, communal areas and gardens strewn with the red bands. Last night, environmental groups and politicians slammed bosses over the mess caused by discarded bands. Animal welfare charities also said the bands have choked ducks. "Green MSP Patrick Harvie said:"If re-using rubber bands could save almost £1million a year in these tough economic times, the Royal Mail should do it. "Management should be making the existing service more efficient and greener, not trying to get themselves privatised."
Details on the rubber band scandal were obtained under freedom of information laws. Figures show that last year Royal Mail shelled out £982,677 on 871,695,000 elastic bands - enough to go round the world three times without even stretching them. That is more than double Royal Mail's pre-2005 number of 342million. "One postman said:"The bosses changed the bands to the red ones a few years back and said it was so we could spot them more easily if they were dropped. "We need a bit more awareness among postmen and women to encourage them to re-use the bands." "We would stress to the Royal Mail to come forward and work with us to find a solution." "Ian Futter, the Scottish SPCA's head vet, said:"Discarded rubber bands are certainly a problem. Royal Mail would not give a clear explanation for the huge rise in elastic band spending.