Laughing gas cartridges have long been one of the most common examples of waste found in Surrey. But Spelthorne Borough Council, which covers areas such as Staines, Ashford, Shepperton and Sunbury, recently warned of new nitrous oxide canisters or our newest ones that have been found littered around the borough, referring to those found in the parking lot of Manor Park in Shepperton.
The council explained that its enforcement team is concerned about the new trend of 615g nitrous canisters which can have a significant effect on the health of the user. This comes 11 months after Spelthorne City Council introduced a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) regarding the use of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), formerly known as legal highs.
Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” is a well-known example of NPS. While these canisters have been a problem in Spelthorne for the past few years, they are far from exclusive to the area – locked out, a teenager collected more than 800 of them from Banstead’s green spaces.
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For comparison, these cartridges are almost as heavy as a standard NBA basketball, which weighs 624g. This makes them quite a challenge for waste pickers, who sometimes find several at once, much heavier than standard gas canisters, which weigh only around 8g.
Cheryl Wright is a member of Spelthorne Litter Pickers, a litter collection group which provided the images to the council. She said, “Usually when the [PSPO] was introduced by the Council of Spelthorne, the number of nsa cartridges which I personally found reduced. This seems to be the case throughout the borough.
“However, recently (perhaps within the last couple of months) the number of cans found seems to be increasing again. We are also seeing an increase in large 625g canisters – we have started to find these larger and larger canisters quantities about a year ago.”
She said it was easier to pick up one of these large canisters than 77 equivalent small canisters, but they were incredibly heavy, especially if, as some of the Spelthorne Litter Pickers did, you find 10 to 14 large canisters in one go. She also believed that a large number of canisters were found outside city centers, where there was less chance of being caught in the act of CCTV or police patrols.
She added: “I personally think these big canisters should be marked with serial numbers linked to the supplier/retailer. Then when they are found on the side of the road, I hope they can be found and the supplier sued. If that happened, the supplier might be more diligent about who they sell to.”
Back then the PSPO was introducedCllr Amar Brar, Chairman of the Neighborhood Services Committee, said: “We have seen a huge increase over the past two to three years in the use of nitrous oxide cartridges. Residents are genuinely concerned about the risks of this drug and the gateway effect to other hazardous substances.
“This public space protection order will empower the police and our joint law enforcement team to issue fixed fine notices for violations. We know our residents have been very sensitive to this issue and we thank them for their responses to our consultation.”
Spelthorne Borough Council has recommended anyone who sees one of the canisters or sees people using them to report it by emailing [email protected]
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