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March 27, 2013

Litter strategy needs community buy in

For every 100 meters of Scotland’s roads, you’ll find seven discarded bottles or cans. Litter is a national problem and the Scottish Government has decided it is time we did something about it – a National Litter Strategy is being devised. Last week’s Litter Summit heard the Cabinet Sec. Richard Lochhead set out some initial ideas including the prospect of increased fixed penalty fines.  Sticks are probably necessary but behaviour change on the scale being envisaged needs carrots too. To succeed, the Strategy also needs to be community led. 


Litter strategy needs community buy in 

Litter fines could be increased under plans discussed at a national litter summit in Edinburgh last week.

Increasing the fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for litter and flytipping from the current £50 level is one option being considered to tackle the blight of litter, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead told participants at the summit.

Scotland’s first national litter strategy is currently being developed for consultation from this summer and increases in the FPN is expected to be part of the wider consultation on the strategy. 

With Scotland hosting the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup next year the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring the country is looking its best when the eyes of the world are watching. The recent Scottish Household Survey highlights that around a quarter of the population believe litter is a problem in their communities. 

Speaking at the event Mr Lochhead said:  

“Scotland really is a beautiful country and in this Year of Natural Scotland we want to do all that we can to show it at its best. Let’s not miss this huge opportunity to show the Scotland’s magnificence.

“I want our National Litter Strategy to achieve a clean, safe environment for people who live in and visit Scotland – where littering is no longer acceptable. The strategy we consult on will be a package of measures to encourage people not to litter or flytip. Today’s attendees will help shape our proposals which will also include how education and infrastructure can support clean, safe communities. 

“Litter costs local authorities, transport providers and other businesses millions to clean up – and we all pay for it. We can each take personal responsibility for disposing of waste responsibly and avoid this unnecessary and expensive eyesore. 

“I encourage councils and the police to use their existing powers to issue litter and flytipping FPNs and I will consult on whether it would be helpful if the level was raised from £50. Over the next few months we will work with local authorities and others to identify what the consultation should propose.”

Cllr Stephen Hagan, COSLA Spokesperson for Development, Economy and Sustainability, said: 

“Scottish local authorities want to see as much litter as possible being prevented. A significant amount of local authority resources are spent tackling litter issues and, at a time of severe financial constraint, if costs can be avoided this would not only improve the environment but allow investment of these resources in the delivery of services. 

“This development of a National Litter Strategy provides an opportunity to engage and explore the ways in which everyone can work together to reduce litter across Scotland.”

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“We know that the everyday problem of litter affects our streets, communities and environment. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Scotland wastes millions in clearing and cleaning this up and in lost value of discarded materials that could be recycled.

“It’s important that there is active engagement by everyone who has a role to play in tackling litter. Through its work on recycling and resource management, the Zero Waste Scotland programme is looking at why people litter and what more could be done to prevent this.

“The forthcoming national strategy will be a new opportunity to address litter in a variety of ways and the delivery of Zero Waste Scotland will continue to be central to the recommendations to come.”


Councils can issue fixed penalty notices for littering and most incidents are dealt with in this way.  People can face a fine of up to £2,500 for dropping litter and up to £40,000 (and/or 12 months imprisonment) for flytipping if convicted by a court. 

This year alone Zero Waste Scotland have invested almost £2 million in work to prevent litter and increase recycling. This includes 2,700 new recycling bins in over 250 busy public places across Scotland.