They say you can tell where you are in the country by looking at the buildings. But it seems the same rule applies to the pavement.

For rubbish, it seems, has a regional identity.

In London, discarded coffee cups are the top source of fast-food litter – followed by wrappings from the sandwich chain Pret A Manger. In Manchester and Leeds, pie and pasty wrappers from Greggs the baker top the list.

A survey of litter in city centres showed that wrappings from fish and chips or kebabs made up 58 per cent of waste lying around in Liverpool. In Birmingham, 41 per cent was from McDonald’s.

Across England the problem is getting worse, according to Keep Britain Tidy. It found a quarter of our streets strewn with refuse compared to 16 per cent six years ago.

Overall, McDonald’s topped the league. Up to 29 per cent of all takeaway rubbish, such as burger wrappers, ketchup sachets and plastic straws, came from its restaurants.

In second place, was the local chippie, with a 21 per cent share of waste including polystyrene trays and wrappers. Greggs was third with 18 per cent, KFC fourth with eight per cent and Subway fifth with five per cent.

For the poll, surveyors spent two days recording litter in the city centres, and suburbs of Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Leicester, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton and London.

They looked at waste from fast-food chains – which makes up a quarter of all litter.

The anti-litter group, which receives half its funding from the Government, argues that chains should cut unnecessary packaging, reduce prices for customers who eat in, and encourage litter bin use.

Chief executive Phil Barton, said: ‘We condemn litterers for dropping this fast-food litter in the first place but also believe the results have pertinent messages for the fast-food industry.

‘McDonald’s, the local chip shop, Greggs, KFC and Subway need to do more to discourage littering by their customers.’

Research for the campaign group suggests it may even be in the chains’ interest to reduce litter. Seeing a company’s brand in the gutter is bad for its image, according to Manchester Business School and Manchester Metropolitan University.

McDonald’s said that all of its restaurants were expected to make three ‘litter patrols’ sweeping the streets each day.

The chain has full-time staff picking up litter at two outlets, and may roll the scheme out nationally, a spokesman added.

KFC said that it was looking at cutting out unnecessary packaging. Greggs said the problem was a challenge on which it will be focusing.