Just one in six people said would confront somebody they saw dropping litter, while 54 per cent would like to but would not dare, the survey of more than 2,100 people for Hubbub found.
But an overwhelming majority of people - 86 per cent - think littering is a “disgusting habit”, with two thirds strongly agreeing with the notion.
The news comes less than a week after The Yorkshire Post launched its Clean Up Yorkshire campaign.
On Saturday, we revealed how clearing rubbish from Yorkshire’s streets has gone up by millions of pounds in the last six years, and called on our readers to join a month of action, picking litter from our streets, lanes and fields this June.
Hubbub’s research follows a report by a Select Committee of MPs in March which put the annual cost to the taxpayer of littering at £850m. Despite this, there has been no improvement in the amount of littering in the last 12 years.
Half-eaten food or fast food packaging, litter thrown out of a car window or left in green spaces, used chewing gum and empty drinks cans and bottles are among the rubbish people find most annoying.
People believe the most effective ways of tackling the problem of litter are to provide more bins and to make littering as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, rather than higher fines or more council spending, the Hubbub poll found.
The results were published as Hubbub unveiled its “litter manifesto”, calling for more action from the Government, businesses and local organisations to make public spaces cleaner, safer and more inviting.
The charity is also launching a “Neat Streets” campaign with London’s Westminster Council to test out new ways of encouraging people not to drop litter, including a street gallery of “my street is your street” posters to build pride in the area and Gumdrop on-the-go bins for chewing gum.
Trewin Restorick, founder of Hubbub said: “Littering affects us all - making our local spaces dirtier, less welcoming, and encouraging anti-social behaviour - and it’s up to all of us to take action to tackle it.
“Hubbub is seeking to create a fresh approach to fighting litter, making it easier for government, businesses and local organisations to work effectively together.
“We have found the best new approaches from around the world and are launching Neat Streets with a series of interactive installations throughout the summer to engage the public, raise awareness of littering and ultimately to change people’s behaviour.”
A spokesman for the Environment Department said: “Litter blights communities and poses a risk to human health which is why tackling this issue remains a priority for government.
“We want everyone to enjoy a cleaner, healthier country and we will build on our recent successes introducing tougher sentencing guidelines and increasing powers to seize vehicles suspected of use in fly-tipping.
“This way we can clamp down on those few people who spoil our local areas with litter.”
l Whether it’s taking a bag with you while you walk your dog, or organising a litter pick in your community or workplace, we want to hear about your efforts to Clean Up Yorkshire. Send the details of your litter pick, along with a contact number, to [email protected]