Litter blighting our motorways costs at least £6m a year to collect, according to a new study by the Highways Agency.
The organisation has warned the amount of rubbish collected off motorways annually around the country would fill four Olympic sized swimming pools.
In February alone, the Highways Agency collected 1,640 sacks of litter from the roads in Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.
Litter thrown onto the roads can cause a hazard to other vehicles, while the task of clearing roadside rubbish puts workers at risk.
In the past year roadside finds include a 6ft tall statue of an Olympic mascot, pieces of furniture, a rocking horse and even a sailing mast – all of which could have caused serious accidents.
The Highways Agency has launched its annual ‘Bag it Bin it’ campaign and is asking road users to help reduce the amount of litter on motorways and major A-roads, which can also threaten wildlife and block drains leading to flooding.
Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said: “The Highways Agency spends at least £6m a year collecting more than 150,000 sacks of litter from England’s motorways. It costs around £40 to collect each bag of rubbish from a motorway, roughly what it costs the Agency to fix a pothole.
“With the ‘Bag it Bin It’ campaign we want to encourage more people to keep a bag in their car, bag their rubbish themselves and dispose of it safely.”
Phil Barton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy said: “Local authorities in England already spend £1bn in street cleaning and car litter is a considerable factor in this.”