A NEW anti-litter campaign launched by Essex councils and fast food franchises has been branded sexist by feminist groups.

The campaign, launched by councils and food outlets under the Love Essex banner is siting Bin Your Litter posters on bus stops countywide.

But the posters have angered womens’ groups, because they refer to men as “smart” and women as “pretty”.

Two versions of the poster – one with a male figure and the other a female, depict figures people holding fast food containers, the slogan, “Bin Your Litter”.

One has a man, dressed in a suit, with the tagline, “it’s a smart thing to do”, while the version with the woman carries the line, “it’s a pretty quick thing to do”.

Mum Natalie Collins, 31, of Delhi Way, Pitsea, spotted the posters atabus stop outside McDonalds, in the town and was horrified.

She said: “I was driving past the other day and I just thought to myself, ‘for goodness sake!’ “I do lots of feminist activism, so I’m quite primed to notice these sorts of things.

“Some people are saying it means ‘smart’, meaning well-dressed, rather than intelligent, but women experience the issue of pretty-versus-smart all the time.

“Even in terms of comparison, it’s just a horrendous advert. I don’t know what they were thinking.

“I have a 12-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son and this is not a message I want them to see.”

The Love Essex anti-littering campaign was started last year by Essex councils, Keep Britain Tidy, the Highways Agency and fast food chains McDonalds, KFC and Dominos Pizza.

Publicity is intended to raise awareness of littering and the risk of fines for offenders. Love Essex claims last summer’s campaign led to a 40 per cent decrease in the amount of fast food-branded litter on the county’s streets.

Campaign organisers: It's not about gender

THE wording on the posters is not intended to refer to the gender of the models, according to the campaign organiser Love Essex.

The campaign is led by Braintree Council, with five different posters due to go up between now and the end of September.

A Braintree Council spokesman said: “The choice of wording on the display material was not intended to apply exclusively to the gender of the accompanying models. The key message is a call to action, asking people to dispose of their litter responsibly.

“Braintree Council has been in touch directly with people to address concerns expressed on social media.

“All our campaigns are based on research into littering and littering behaviours.

“When designing both the 2014 and 2015 campaigns, we used the latest research and insight from Keep Britain Tidy, which informed us about litter, littering, who does it and why.

“The research divides the public into different segments, based on certain characteristics.

“It is a technique widely used by commercial businesses to identify consumer groups to better target communications.

“The posters give examples of commonly-found litter and ask people to put the litter in the bin or risk a £75 fine.”