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litterLitter Clearance

The responsibility for clearing litter from Scotland's streets and public areas primarily lies with our local authorities. This is a duty given to them by the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

As independent bodies how councils go about fulfilling that litter clearance duty and what resources they use is entirely up to them, provided they meet the standards in the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (COPLAR).

The COPLAR provides practical guidance on the discharge of duties imposed on all relevant bodies by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to keep specified land clear of litter and refuse. It sets out what the public is entitled to expect and how a member of the public may take action where these standards are not met.

Litter Enforcement

A person who is caught littering is, if the case goes to court, liable to a fine of up to level 4 on the standard scale (currently £2,500). Alternatively, the person may be offered the opportunity to pay a Fixed Penalty Notice, the level of which is £50.

Police officers and designated local authority officers have the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to those who litter.

Litter on Roads

Transport Scotland, through its Operating Companies, is responsible for clearance of litter on motorways and special roads, however litter clearance on the other trunk roads is the responsibility of the local authority.


Anyone caught flytipping could face a penalty of up to £40,000, 6 months in prison, or both if the case goes to court. On indictment a flytipper can face an even more severe penalty of an unlimited fine and/or two years imprisonment - five years if its hazardous waste - and the police also have the power to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Scottish Government action

Scottish Ministers want fresh action and solutions to tackle litter and flytipping to help deliver a zero waste society in Scotland. Scottish Government will work with the Zero Waste Scotland Delivery Programme and other partners to deliver such action.

To help reduce litter levels, particularly in busy city centres, Scottish Government is keen to see the number of 'Recycling On The Go' facilities increase substantially across Scotland. Such facilities can have a positive affect on reducing litter levels and normalising recycling behaviour. Initiatives like this also divert valuable resources from landfill and are to be encouraged.

To help raise awareness of the problem of litter, Scottish Government provides funding to the Zero Waste Scotland litter team within Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB). KSB's anti-litter campaigns have been run under the slogan of Keep Scotland Tidy for over forty years.

Scottish Government also funds the Scottish Flytipping Forum. The Forum includes all of the key stakeholders who are affected by flytipping including KSB, Police, Councils, private landowners, Scottish Government and SEPA.

The forum launched the Dumb Dumpers Stop Line in 2004. By telephoning 0845 2 30 40 90 or logging onto their website members of the public can report fly-tipping incidents 24 hours a day.

Carrier Bags plastic carrier bag

Reducing the unnecessary use of carrier bags is crucial to achieve a zero waste society in Scotland.

Many of the leading supermarkets in Scotland signed up to a voluntary agreement with Scottish Government to reduce the environmental impact of carrier bags by 50 per cent by May 2009. This target was virtually met with the most recent results showing a 49.4% reduction in carrier bags being handed out in Scotland.

Scottish Government will consider introducing legislation on carrier bags through the Scottish Climate Change Bill if voluntary agreements do not succeed.

Further information can be found on the Zero Waste Scotland website.