National litter and flytipping consultation: strategic environmental assessment

Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for the proposed actions for the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy.

8. Material assets

Whilst the SEA legislation does not provide any definition of the term “material assets”, the SEPA guidance states that material assets include built assets and natural assets. The scope of “built assets and natural assets” is therefore defined, within this Environmental Report, as encompassing the following:

  • Natural assets – raw source of compositional materials of targeted single use plastic items and any raw materials used to support waste infrastructure;
  • Built assets – land take and soil use/loss for new infrastructure;
  • Built assets – any new infrastructure required for the adoption of the alternative option.

This section provides the contextual information to inform the assessment (in terms of the review of Plans, Programmes and Strategies (PPS) and the baseline information) as well as an assessment of the effects of the SUP Directive on material assets.

8.1 Relationship with other Plans, Programmes, Strategies and Environmental Objectives

The PPS relevant to the material asset topic and the proposals for the prevention of litter and flytipping are shown in Figure 8-1 and summarised thereafter.

Figure 8-1 Plans, Policies and Strategies related to Material Assets

Plans, Policies and Strategies (PPS)

International PPS

  • UN Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

European PPS

  • EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy
  • EU Waste framework Directive
  • EU Single Use Plastic Directive


  • Environmental Protection Act

Scottish PPS

  • The Scottish Government Programme for Scotland
  • A Marine Litter Strategy for Scotland
  • Making Things Last - A Circular Economy Strategy
  • Scottish National Planning Framework
  • Climate Change Plan: The Third Report on Proposals and Policies 2018-2032
  • A Manufacturing Future for Scotland
  • Scottish Planning Policy
  • Safeguarding Scotland Resources
  • Land Use Strategy for Scotland
  • Scotland's Zero Waste Plan
  • Five years on: A review of Scotland's national litter strategy
  • Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020 (DRS Regulations)
  • Towards a Litter Free Scotland
  • The Environmental Regulation (Enforcement Measures) Amendment Order 2020

8.1.1 International level

United Nations (2015): Transforming our World - the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets out 17 global goals agreed by the United Nations. These goals are embedded within the agenda for 15 years and include commitments to protect the planet through sustainable consumption and sustainable management of resources. The new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy will support Scotland’s efforts toward the global goals in seeking to embed sustainability and resource minimisation across all sectors of society. One of the key sustainable development goals relevant to Material Assets is Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

8.1.2 European level

European Union (2008): The EU Waste Framework Directive introduced a definition for waste. The Directive introduced key principles to ensure that waste is managed without endangering human or environmental health. The directive also introduced the Waste Hierarchy, the "polluter pays principle" and the "extended producer responsibility". It included two new recycling and recovery targets to be achieved by 2020:

  • 50% for re-use and recycling of household wastes and
  • 70% for re-use, recycling and other recovery of construction and demolition waste.

The Directive requires that Member States adopt waste management plans and waste prevention programmes. The Framework Directive necessitates that member states radically enhance waste management and recycling practices.

European Union (2018): The EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy details an EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy. The Action Plan includes a suite of programmes seeking to embed improved practices across the life cycle of products; from cradle to grave. The revised legislative proposals on waste set clear targets for waste reductions. The Action Plan requires member states to radically enhance waste management and recycling practices; to design out waste and to design products that can be recycled (if not repaired/remanufactured) at end of life.

European Union (2019):Directive on single-use plastics. The Directive highlights the significant negative environmental, health and economic impact of certain plastic products with a particular focus on single-use plastic items. the Directive builds upon the European Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy through a specific legal framework which aims to increase the level of ambition demonstrated through national measures to prevent and reduce litter with specific reference to single-use plastics. In the context of the SEA topic on material assets, the Directive seeks to instil a greater respect for preservation of resources, and in developing a more circular approach to material use, that sees the need for fewer virgin materials through greater resource efficiency. It helps provide a framework for the new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy to target certain wastes and enhance enforcement. The Scottish government is currently setting out its plans to introduce restrictions on problematic single-use plastic item. Draft regulations for a single-use plastics ban are now published (Draft Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products and Oxo-degradable Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021: discussion paper[133]). It is intended that some items will no longer be available from 2022.

8.1.3 UK level

UK Government (1990): The Environmental Protection Act seeks to improve resource use and environmental conditions through the control of waste collections and management across the UK. The Act designates the regime for licensing of waste operations and provides the first definition of “controlled wastes” (known as Hazardous Wastes in Scotland). The Act introduces the Duty of Care for producers, carriers, importers and exporters. The Act also introduced criminal offences regarding litter in a bid to reduce littering across the UK. The Act requires the UK to tightly control the movement and handling of wastes.

8.1.4 Scottish level

Scottish Government (2011): The first land use strategy for Scotland, Getting the best from our land - A land use strategy for Scotland (2011) had the objectives of: land-based businesses working with nature; responsible stewardship of Scotland’s natural resources; and urban and rural communities better connected to the land. The vision, objectives and principles of the strategy were retained and built upon by the second land use strategy; Getting the Best From Our Land: A Land Use Strategy For Scotland 2016-2021 published in 2016. The strategy supports sustainable use of natural assets including the preservation of the quality of the natural environment that the new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy can help reinforce and protect.

Scottish Government (2013): Safeguarding Scotland’s Resources set out the ambition to minimise the resources needed to sustain the market demand for products in Scotland. The document sets out a range of measures to promote efficient use of materials and to reduce waste. A total of 13 actions are proposed to develop baseline evidence for circular economy opportunities, to influence behaviours, enhance the design of products and packaging, and to support businesses to prevent, manage and benchmark wastes. The Programme’s actions will supplement the behaviour change across society in supporting efficient and responsible management of resources.

Scottish Government (2013): Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan set out the Scottish Government’s spearhead strategy to make the most of resources and to reduce, reuse and recycle more materials in Scotland. Measures to achieve the vision include using separate collections of specific waste types, increasing reuse and recycling opportunities and introducing new recycling targets of 70% of all waste recycled by 2025 and a maximum of 5% of all waste to landfill by 2025. The Zero Waste Plan is the flagship policy for Scotland’s waste ambitions. The new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy will provide significant support to achieving the recycling targets by increasing the capture of materials previously discarded as litter or flytipping.

Scottish Government (2014): The Scottish National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy are two documents which promote waste as a resource. The framework and the planning policy recognise that the design of places can minimise waste whilst instilling responsible behaviours in providing waste infrastructure for public use. Of particular note the Scottish Planning Policy (para 176) supports “the emergence of a diverse range of new technologies and investment opportunities to secure economic value from secondary resources, including reuse, refurbishment, remanufacturing and reprocessing” whilst noting that the planning scheme should “help deliver infrastructure at appropriate locations, prioritising development in line with the waste hierarchy: waste prevention, reuse, recycling, energy recovery and waste disposal”. are two documents which promote waste as a resource. The framework and the planning policy recognise the need to appreciate the value of waste, and the role it plays in a more circular economy. Of particular note, the Scottish Planning Policy (para 175) recognises that “waste is a resource and an opportunity, rather than a burden. Scotland has a Zero Waste Policy, which means wasting as little as possible and recognising that every item and material we use, either natural or manufactured, is a resource which has value for our economy.’.

Scottish Government (2014): A Marine Litter Strategy for Scotland identified five proposed strategic directions to reach a Zero Waste Scotland, supported by responsible behaviours. The strategy seeks to address litter within the marine environment between 2013 and 2020. The objectives of the strategy are to enhance current legislation to promote effective clean-up of contaminated areas, whilst supporting local and national stakeholders to understand, and support, litter free urban areas. The strategy seeks to reduce the litter entering the marine environment, by educating visitors to reduce littering and promote recycling of wastes with Zero Waste Scotland (both onshore and offshore – such as fish nets), incentivising better harbourside recycling infrastructure and behaviour changes, improving monitoring protocols and recording mechanisms, in conjunction with local stakeholders. The strategy also complements the introduction of market restrictions on single-use plastic items as a preventative measure which will help realise the vision of a “clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse marine and coastal environment that meets the long term needs of people and nature[134]. This strategy complements the new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy in pushing for greater recycling through awareness and improved infrastructure; a new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy would therefore support the drive to reduce littering in a marine environment.

Scottish Government (2014): Toward a Litter free Scotland - The National Litter Strategy (2014) sets clear actions which have an impact upon material assets, when seeking to improve the environment through targeted approaches to litter and flytipping. The strategy seeks to educate the public to adopt alternative behaviours to waste management, through access to improved recycling opportunities, improved product design, awareness campaigns and targeted exploration to tackle litter on beaches. The strategy also proposes exploring enforcement opportunities and identifying pilot solutions to litter. The new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy will strengthen the progress made and include measures to resolve any gaps identified in the Litter Strategy- five years on: Review[135] published in March 2021. The review highlights that significant progress has been made and identifies key successes. However, it also recognises that litter and flytipping still pose a significant challenge that requires further concerted action; and identifies opportunities for potential future action. The new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy has the opportunity to improve opportunities to maintain materials at their greatest resource potential.

Scottish Government (2016) Making Things Last – A Circular Economy Strategy is Scotland’s first circular economy (CE) strategy. The strategy endeavours to set out early priorities to embed Circular Economy principles across key Scottish sectors including manufacturing. It seeks to embed CE principles into the manufacturing process, to design packaging materials for reuse, recycling and recovery in partnership with packaging industries, whilst embedding a mindset across the public that materials are finite and that current consumptions patterns and reliance on “single-use” items are unsustainable. It repeats the targets to recycle 70% of all waste and to send no more than 5% of all waste to landfill by 2025. It also reiterates the need to promote a shift away from the prevailing take-make-dispose consumption pattern. The document states the government’s ambition to capture materials and enhance reuse and recycling.

Scottish Enterprise (2016): A Manufacturing Future for Scotland details a series of interventions to be adopted which will help nurture further growth across the manufacturing sector. The strategy seeks to support companies to reap the benefits of the circular economy through the opportunities on product design, manufacturing processes and supply chains. The strategy seeks to eradicate waste through innovation in product design and remanufacturing. The new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy can support the strategy by incentivising recycling and reuse for manufacturers to utilise the waste within their manufacturing processes.

Scottish Government (2018): Climate Change Plan - The Third Report on Proposals and Policies 2018-2032 provides a progress update on the Governments Climate Change Plan. The update states the Governments plans to reduce emissions from waste through adoption of CE approaches. The Report reiterates ambitions to recycle 70% of all wastes by 2025 and to reduce all wastes sent to landfill by 5% by 2025. This will be delivered through support for businesses, local authorities and community action.

Scottish Government: Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland: The Scottish Government Programme for Scotland 2020-2021 states the Government’s commitment to tackle climate change and to prepare Scotland for the new, low carbon world and reach the statutory commitment to be a net zero society by 2045. This Programme sets out the next phase of our Green New Deal announced in 2019. The programme seeks to increase recycling rates and stimulate greater resource efficiency and respect for material assets by developing a route map to reduce waste and meet 2025 recycling targets as well as boosting the circularity of the Scottish economy. The programme will dedicate £100m over the next five years to a Green Jobs Fund. The programme commits to reduce demand for single-use items and includes the development of an advisory group exploring fiscal options to reduce waste and boost the circular economy. A Fairer, Greener Scotland: Programme for Government 2021-22 planned to invest an additional £500 million to support the new, good and green jobs of the future, including upskilling and reskilling people.

The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020 (DRS Regulations). The driver for the DRS regulations is to promote and secure an increase in recycling of materials, forming part of the Scottish Government’s response to the global climate emergency, by ensuring the targeted materials are collected in larger quantities and separately to other materials. The DRS addresses common single-use packaging used for drinks containers, which will encourage people to return that packaging to specified return points, which will be collected separately in bulk to facilitate economies of scales, meaning they can be more readily recycled in a closed-loop. During the consultation on the proposed DRS Scheme there was widespread agreement amongst both organisational and individual respondents that a well-run and appropriately targeted DRS could provide opportunities in relation to improving the environment, changing people’s attitudes to recycling and littering, and building the circular economy[136].

The Environmental Regulation (Enforcement Measures) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020 confers additional powers on the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (“SEPA”) to enforce the requirements of the Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020. It amends the Environmental Regulation (Enforcement Measures) (Scotland) Order 2015 so that, where offences are committed under the Regulations, SEPA may also exercise its powers under the 2015 Order to impose a fixed or variable monetary penalty, or to accept an enforcement undertaking.

Local Authority Waste Strategies

Scottish Local Authorities have developed a range of local, tailored waste strategies which sets out the Authority’s ambitions for waste services. The strategies justify any upcoming changes to services to meet legislative, budgetary or local requirements. Each strategy seeks to increase recycling tonnages and quality.

8.2 Baseline Characteristics

8.2.1 Current Resource Use and Waste Management of Materials Relevant to the NLFS

This section gives a summary of the current waste generation quantities of materials relevant to litter and flytipping and their management and disposal.


There is limited publicly available information on the quantity of ‘on-the-ground’ litter waste. In the most-recent study, cited frequently in literature, the amount of on-the-ground litter is estimated to be around 15,000 tonnes in 2013[137]. The same report estimated that at least £53 million of public money is spent on dealing with litter and flytipping each year (of which 79% is spent on littering). This was a bespoke assessment; a similar analysis is beyond the scope of this assessment. Therefore, qualitative data from respondent questionnaires and site surveys, have been used as an indication of littering quantities identified in the rest of this section.

In 2013, 31% of sites audited by Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) were found to be completely free of litter. This decreased sharply to 16% in 2020[138]. Cigarette-related litter remains the most frequently littered item[139]. According to KSB LEAMS data, almost 2 in 3 of the 10,869 assessed sites exhibited smoking related litter[140].

By 2020, the number of significantly or severely littered sites had more than doubled in Scotland’s most deprived communities since 2014 – disproportionally affecting most deprived areas (49%) over least deprived areas (19%)[141]. In the same timeframe, there was a 28% reduction in the number of fines issued for litter[142].

29% of respondents to a KSB survey believe that the amount of litter has got worse over lockdown[143]. This was supported by KSB LEAMS Data which found that more than 2 PPE items were littered every 1 km[144]. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was also found on 30% of beach cleans and 69% of inland litter picks[145].

As reported previously in the Baseline Characteristics for Water (Section 6.2), the top 5 most common litter items on UK beaches (2020 average per 100m of beach surveyed)[146] were as follows:

  • Plastic and polystyrene pieces (0-50cm): 167.2
  • Plastic and polystyrene caps and lids: 19.7
  • Wet wipes: 17.7
  • Cigarette stubs: 16.2
  • Plastic string: 15.8

The Marine Conservation Society determined a 55% drop in plastic bags found on UK beaches since the 5p charge introduced[147]. 28% of material is categorised as being littered by the public, while 48% remains unsourced, primarily because it has broken down into fragments too small to identify[148].


According to the 2013 ZWS report, 21% of the £53 million of public money spent on dealing with litter and flytipping each year is spent on flytipping. This figure is frequently used within literature and the ZWS website but more recent data is unavailable. A KSB survey indicated that 39% of respondents believe that the amount of flytipping has got worse over the lockdown imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic[149].

The ZWS 2013 litter report estimated that at least 26,756 tonnes of waste was illegally flytipped in Scotland each year and dealt with by local authorities, with an estimated 61,227 incidents occurring in 2013[150]. In 2017, it was reported that there was a declining trend. However, a conclusion could not be drawn due to the recent transition of reporting systems[151]; FlyMapper - a free tool for local authorities and land owners to voluntarily report and monitor flytipping - is administered by ZWS, replacing the Flycapture database in 2017. However, it has not been fully adopted by all local authorities therefore cannot deliver a complete picture of flytipping in Scotland. Furthermore, mandatory local authority reporting using Waste Data Flow is inconsistent and incomplete. SEPA have compiled and shared the data shown in Figure 8-2, using data drawn from numerous reporting platforms, although noting there are limitations in using the values provided to interpret a trend in levels of flytipping (see notes for Figure 8-2).

Figure 8-2 Number of recorded flytipping incidents between 2014 and 2020* provided by SEPA [152]
Chart showing the number of recorded flytipping incidents between 2014 and 2020.

*Notes on data presented in Figure 8-2:

  • Data provided for 2014-2019 is a combination of available datasets relating to Local Authority and SEPA reported fly tipping incidents. There may be duplication/overlap between the two data sources but no attempt has been made to reconcile the data.
  • Data provided for 2020 is Local Authority reported fly tipping incidents only, as SEPA reported fly tipping events are not currently available due to the cyber-attack.
  • The data is mainly unverified, and different Authorities will have different definitions of what is classed as a fly tipping incident.
  • Data for all Local Authorities for all years is not available.
  • This is the best estimate on data available and may not be a complete dataset for Scotland.

The composition of fly-tipped material is shown in Figure 8-3 showing how composition compares in 2013, 2017 and 2020 (note: the composition data is based on various sources, including the Flymapper platform, which are not directly comparable with the SEPA reporting of incidents in Figure 8-2; classification between 2013 data differs from the later years and some waste classes have been merged for consistency).

Figure 8-3 Composition of fly-tipped waste in 2013 [153], 2017 [154] and 2020 [155]
Chart showing the number of recorded flytipping incidents between 2014 and 2020.

It is difficult to draw a conclusion on how waste types have changed since 2013 as the data uses a legacy classification format, which introduces uncertainty in determining which waste types are included in each classification. However, between 2017 and 2020, the proportion of most waste types has remained largely static. Nevertheless, construction waste, furniture and vehicle parts, made up a smaller proportion of flytipped waste in 2020 than in 2017. This has been displaced by a considerable increase in unclassified ‘other waste’ (note: the data may also be reported differently between authorities).

Current infrastructure

An indication of existing considerations for infrastructure supporting the management of litter and flytipping are provided in the following actions from the 2014 National Litter Strategy:

  • Opportunities for recycling - increasing facilities in public places (such as Recycle on the Go) and increasing the range of commonly recycled materials. It includes recycling bins and take back/rewards schemes.
  • Guidance - providing effective advice and best practice to the people whose jobs include particular responsibility to tackle litter and flytipping.
  • Funding and support - targeting resources on activity which delivers litter-free environments.

A 2021 review of the existing 2014 National Litter Strategy[156] has highlighted the infrastructure currently in place to address litter and flytipping as a result of the strategy:

Table 8-1 Infrastructure currently in place to address litter and flytipping as a result of the existing 2014 National Litter Strategy

Activities carried out under the existing strategy


Zero Waste Scotland created the Litter Knowledge Network which pulls together tools, materials and good practice examples.

A Recycling on the Go communication toolkit was developed by Zero Waste Scotland

Zero Waste Scotland created a free toolkit to assist partners in developing interventions to help prevent flytipping

Zero Waste Scotland updated the Dumb Dumpers initiative in 2016

Community action

Zero Waste Scotland’s Litter Prevention Action Plans provides support to communities, local authorities and businesses who wish to prevent local litter problems.

Funding of the three Zero Waste Towns projects, allowed local action to take place, including:

  • Zero Waste Leith’s work to achieve ‘cleaner, greener streets’
  • Zero Waste Edinburgh’s project to repurpose unwanted materials from student residences

The Sustainable Events Guide was updated by Zero Waste Scotland in 2015 and a new events guide/checklist was produced by Zero Waste Scotland in 2016/17 specific to managing and preventing litter and waste at events.

Product design

Zero Waste Scotland and the National Bed Federation are collaborating with the aim of increasing the reuse and recycling of mattress components, meaning that they will be less likely to be flytipped in the future

Service design

The introduction of the new Litter Monitoring System means that both litter and Flytipping data for all registered bodies are stored on the same site. This means that geographical and historical data is easier to access and patterns and hotspots are easier to detect.

Guidance review

The Household Recycling Code of Practice helped ensure waste collection services are designed in a way so as to avoid accidental spillage or ‘wind-blown’ waste from collection containers or vehicles and to help ensure there is a synergy between all the operational functions responsible for waste, cleansing and flytipping.

Funding & support

Through Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish Government provided around £1.5m of funding between 2014 and 2015 to local authorities, community groups and organisations to tackle litter. This funding included:

  • Recycling on the Go 2014/15
  • Community Action Fund 2014/15
  • Litter Prevention Fund 2015/16 and 2016/17
  • Communications fund 2016/17
  • Individual projects (Glasgow enforcement) 2017/18

Through Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Government committed £150k, £75k in each of 2015-16 and 2016-17, to the Clean Up Scotland campaign delivered by Keep Scotland Beautiful. This is in addition to £500,000 provided since 2013.

In 2018, Scottish Government held the first Marine Summit in Oban and pledged £500,000 to help tackle plastic pollution.

Research & Monitoring

Through Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Government has published a number of pieces of research, including:

  • Public perceptions & concerns (2015)
  • Good practice to reduce waste crime (2015)
  • Recycle & Reward pilots report (2015)
  • Short survey of public attitudes and behaviours in relation to litter and flytipping (2016)
  • Evidence review of Flytipping behaviour (2017)


New fixed penalty powers granted to SEPA in 2015 tackle low-level noncompliance with waste legislation, including flytipping.

Scotland’s Update to the Climate Change Plan 2018 – 2032 announced a £70 million fund to improve local authority recycling collection infrastructure and legislation to restrict sales of single-use plastics, which is expected to reduce littered plastics. The Low carbon fund will also support improved waste data and tracking[157].

A new Litter Monitoring System and methodology which was aligned with CoPLAR 2018. Transition to the new method is still underway and will allow spatial data to be collected on the amount and types of litter found.

Clearing litter from streets and public areas in Scotland is the responsibility of local authorities and statutory undertakers such as Network Rail, Scottish Canals and schools, colleges and universities, as set out by the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Transport Scotland is responsible for clearing litter from motorways and special roads, while local authorities are responsible for keeping local roads and most trunk roads clear. Local authorities and other duty holders are free to determine how best to fulfil their duties, providing they have regard to the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (COPLAR) 2018 [158]. Local authorities are responsible for clearing litter which includes installation of public litter bin, although it is noted that over 4,000 Recycle on The Go bins have been installed from Zero Waste Scotland funding[159]. Once, collected by authorities, waste is disposed of as a regular waste stream. This may vary by authority.


The majority of litter in Scotland is discarded by members of the public, with business and commercial waste each accounting for less than 5% of total litter presence. A Public Attitudes Towards Litter Survey work carried out by Zero Waste Scotland[160] found that:

  • l 10% of respondents had intentionally dropped litter in the 12 months prior to the survey being carried out;
  • 26% of respondents had accidentally dropped litter and left it there in the 12 months prior to the survey being carried out;
  • 86% of respondents had seen someone else drop litter (i.e. either intentionally or accidentally).

There are fixed penalties of £80 for littering and £200 for flytipping. Alleged offenders are required by law to provide their name and address to enforcement officers (from 1 June 2014)[161]. Penalties can be issued by the police, by local authorities, and – since 1 April 2015 – by public bodies such as the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park[162].

If the case goes to court, a person who is caught littering will have to pay a fine of up to £2,500. Someone convicted of flytipping could be fined up to £40,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 12 months[163]. In addition, SEPA and Revenue Scotland can recover landfill tax from illegally deposited wastes.

Improved use of CCTV to identify offences and new fixed penalty powers were granted to SEPA to tackle low-level noncompliance with waste legislation, including flytipping[164]. Nevertheless, the number of enforcements against both littering and flytipping has reduced substantially in recent years[165]; with the value of fines falling by £0.97 million between 2015 and 2018[166]. In Glasgow, a major generator of fines in Scotland, 46% of fines were not paid, and no unpaid fines were referred to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, in the 3 years up to March 2018[167].

8.2.2 Likely Evolution of the Baseline without the NLFS

Without the proposed measures in the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy, it is expected that the levels of littering and flytipping are expected to continue. Perceived littering has increased since 2013, by site inspection data, whereas the number of reported flytipping incidents is in slight decline. However, this data is far from comprehensive. Furthermore, in a Keep Scotland Beautiful study[168], interviewees suggest that litter and flytipping has got continually worse since 2013. Meanwhile, the number of successful prosecutions for both littering and flytipping have plummeted in the same timeframe suggesting that the current strategy is ineffective. Without revision, this trend may continue to the point that prosecutions are no longer viable; offering little deterrent to offenders.

8.3 Consideration of likely significant effects

8.3.1 Methodology

The new National Litter and Flytipping strategy has the potential to have a range of effects on material assets by preventing or limiting waste materials entering and affecting the environment. The assessment considers the potential impacts on material assets in Scotland through the implementation of the proposed actions to prevent litter and flytipping, developed across the four strategy themes: behaviour change; infrastructure and services; enforcement; and data and research.

Although the adverse impacts of litter and flytipping on material assets may be similar it is recognised that litter and flytipping are distinct issues with different drivers, so the assessment provides separate appraisals of the actions proposed for the Litter strategy (Table 8-2) and the Flytipping strategy (Table 8-3). The SEA criteria for assessing the effects on material assets are listed at the start of each table. The effects against these criteria are considered against a baseline which is effectively a continuation of the existing National Litter Strategy.

8.3.2 Results

The tables below provide summary assessments of the likely significant environmental effects of implementing proposed actions to prevent litter and flytipping across the four strategy themes, with regard to material assets. Table 8-2 presents the results of the assessment of actions for Litter and Table 8-3 present the findings assessing the actions for the Flytipping.

The key to each assessment score is shown below:

Score Key:

++ Significant positive effect

+ Minor positive effect

0 No overall effect

- Minor negative effect

-- Significant negative effect

? Score uncertain

NB: Where a box is coloured but also contains a “?” this indicates uncertainty over whether the effect could be a minor or significant effect although a professional judgement is expressed in the colour used. A conclusion of uncertainty arises where there is insufficient evidence for expert judgement to conclude an effect.

Table 8-2 Assessment of Effects of Litter Actions on SEA Criteria for Material Assets

Litter Strategy

Material Assets

SEA Criteria:

  • To maintain the environmental quality which supports economic activities.
  • To prevent increased pressure on material assets such as landfill sites.

Behaviour Change – Actions

Overall Score: +/?

Conduct research to understand the full range of influences on littering behaviours across various contexts and audience groups.

Action Score: +/?

Develop a sustained, evidence based, national anti-littering campaign and deliver this consistently and collaboratively across Scotland.

Action Score: ++/?


Actions conducting more research on the range of influences on littering behaviour are expected to provide an increased awareness of the reasons for littering, which may have a positive impact in terms of highlighting the value of littered material and reduce quantities of litter waste going to landfill. although the effectiveness of proposed actions is uncertain The development of a national campaign and collaborative approach to litter prevention and behaviour change across Scotland has the potential to have a significant positive impact on maintaining environmental quality and reduce pressure on materials assets. However, until there is improved information on the quantity of litter and potential material resources there is uncertainty regarding the significance of the impact on material assets.

Services and Infrastructure – Actions

Overall Score: +

Explore the use of flexible and innovative interventions to support litter prevention and removal.

Action: ++

Establish an action focused group to encourage collaboration and share best practice between local authorities, national parks and other duty bodies to optimise services

Overall Score: ++

Create a national litter hub to provide information and advice to community groups.

Action Score: +

Increase the use of citizen science to support data on levels and composition of litter.

Action Score: +

Carry out a review of the development, implementation and progress of the Code of Practice for Litter and Refuse (2018).

Action Score: ?


Actions exploring innovation and flexible use of litter and waste services and infrastructure are considered to have a significant positive effect, particularly in relation to the management of material assets and reducing pressure on landfills. Increased collaboration between organisations and information sharing is also assessed as having a significant positive effect, as collaboration on material management may generate new business opportunities for use of the resources or better waste management practices.

The creation of a national hub will help to improve safe waste disposal and contribute to better management of material assets. The use of citizen science is also anticipated to have a positive effect, principally because the information provided would be useful in optimising the use of material assets and availability of litter material, which could potentially incorporate anecdotal local asset material management that could be replicated nationally. It is not clear whether a review of the Code of Practice for Litter and Refuse (COPLAR) will result in any changes beyond those currently established for preventing and reducing the impacts of litter in the environment, so this is considered to be an uncertain effect for material assets at this stage.

Enforcement – Actions

Overall Score: +/?

Conduct an evidence review of barriers to enforcement of litter offences.

Action Score: ++/?

Explore raising current fixed penalty notice amounts for a litter offence.

Action Score: +/?

Develop guidance on enforcement best practices and seek agreement for this to be voluntarily adopted by Local Authorities and National Parks.

Action Score: ++/?

Review current powers for enforcing littering offences.

Action Score: +/?

Explore potential alternative penalties to monetary fixed penalties for a litter offence.

Action Score: ?

Explore using civil penalties in relation to littering offences.

Action Score: ?

Create fixed penalties for the registered keeper of the vehicle for littering from vehicles.

Action Score: +/?


Litter incidences have increased since 2013[169], despite introduction of higher fines for littering in 2014, with the number of successful prosecutions for littering declining over the period. This suggests there may be poor implementation of existing legislation on offenders, thus a review of barriers to enforcement and better guidance on enforcement should improve enforcement measures to prevent littering, and a review of existing powers may also support this. These is considered to have positive benefits in terms of improving the availability of materials for reuse and recycling and reducing disposal of litter waste in landfills, noting though that voluntary adoption introduces some uncertainty on the extent to which any enforcement measures would be implemented.

As discussed in the assessment of Enforcement actions in relation to Biodiversity (see Table 4-3), the further raising of fixed penalties or introducing legislation to strengthen enforcement of litter from vehicles by issuing a fine to the registered keeper of the vehicle, may help to deter littering but the level of positive effects for material assets is uncertain. There is insufficient information to determine whether civil penalties and alternatives to financial penalties would be effective at preventing littering, so these actions have been assessed to be uncertain impacts for material assets.

Data and Research – Actions

Overall Score: ++/?

Review the available litter data and approach to data collection across Scotland and reach an agreement between stakeholders on a common approach to collecting data.

Action Score: ++/?

Identify commonly littered items and litter hotspots and work with Local Authorities and other duty bodies to develop targeted interventions to reduce litter.

Action Score: ++/?


There is currently no comprehensive or consistent central database for local authorities to report litter arisings. Therefore, a review of available litter data and approach to data collection would provide valuable information against which progress can be monitored and provide insight into the effects of the new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy (noting that this has close links to the optimisation of services identified in the Infrastructure and Services strategy theme). This is considered to be a significant positive impact in terms of identifying the value and quality of resources in littered material, which should also help to avoid disposal of waste in landfill sites.

The identification of litter composition and hotspots are considered to be beneficial in terms of the SEA Material Assets criteria, as these actions should improve opportunities to capture the resource value of litter and enhance the management of litter waste, reducing pressure on waste disposal sites. For both of these actions some uncertainty on the significance of the effects is recorded, noting that the measures are dependent on agreement and practical implementation with the relevant stakeholders.

Table 8-3 Assessment of Effects of Flytipping Actions on SEA Criteria for Material Assets

Flytipping Strategy

Material Assets

SEA Criteria:

  • To maintain the environmental quality which supports economic activities.
  • To prevent increased pressure on material assets such as landfill sites.

Behaviour Change – Actions

Overall Score: +/?

Conduct research to understand the full range of influences on flytipping behaviour across various context and audience groups and use this to design effective responses.

Action Score: +/?

Develop a sustained, evidence based, national anti-flytipping campaign and deliver this consistently and collaboratively across Scotland.

Action Score: +

Develop social media campaigns and guidance targeted at waste carriers and other businesses[170].

Action Score: +/?


Research into flytipping behaviour has the potential to provide beneficial effects by understanding the drivers for illegal dumping of waste and identifying responses that highlight the potential value of flytipped material and reduce quantities going to landfill sites. This should be supported by information and data gathering on the type of material and quantity flytipped.

The development of a national anti-flytipping campaign should help to improve the amount of material available for reuse rather than disposal. This action is therefore anticipated to have a positive effect on material assets. The development of social media campaigns and guidance may help to raise awareness of the adverse effects of flytipping, which is considered to be a positive effect for material assets, although the effectiveness of the measures in changing the behaviour of waste carriers and businesses remains uncertain.

Services and Infrastructure – Actions

Overall Score: +

Support and encourage information and resource sharing between Local Authorities, waste sector, SEPA and other organisations through the flytipping forum.

Action Score: ++

Explore the role of technology in assisting private landowners and land managers deter flytipping on their land.

Action Score: +/?

Produce updated guidance for private landowners on dealing with flytipping.

Action Score: +

Explore alternative financial support mechanisms available to private landowners.

Action Score: +

Explore how to support and encourage more reuse and repair of products that are commonly flytipped.

Action Score: ++/?

Explore a flexible approach to waste disposal (such as mobile HWRCs and targeted amnesties), and targeted interventions, with a view to trial these.

Action Score: +

Carry out research to create a single information point on the disposal of commonly flytipped materials.

Action Score: +


Flytipped material is generally lost from management routes for recycling or reuse, so actions that encourage information and resource sharing between organisations are considered to have a significant positive impact on material assets, through improving the value of materials recovered and avoiding the need to dispose of the material at landfill sites.

Exploring the role of technology for landowners to deter flytipping could be beneficial in avoiding loss of material resources and reducing the need for landfill disposal. However, the effectiveness and practicalities of implementing technological deterrents are still to be determined, so the significance of the impacts are uncertain.

The provision of further guidance to landowners on managing flytipping, should help to either deter flytipping or improve the reuse and recycling of flytipped material, and also reduce disposal at landfill sites. Exploring alternative financial support mechanisms in terms of services and infrastructure for dealing with flytipped material may also improve management options for flytipped materials and reduce pressure on landfill sites approach for managing the waste, which is assessed to be a positive effect for material assets.

Support in encouraging more reuse and repair of products is considered to have significant positive effects on material assets, as this would extend the value of material resources and reduce pressure on landfill sites. Further monitoring would be required though to confirm the effectiveness of the action. The actions exploring a more flexible approach to waste disposal and interventions to prevent flytipping, as well as creation of a single information point, are expected to help improve the management of flytipped material through the coordination of relevant services and visibility of information on flytipping. The actions may help prevent flytipping and improve management options, with benefits for material assets.

Enforcement – Actions

Overall Score: +/?

Conduct an evidence review of barriers to enforcement.

Action Score: +/?

Develop guidance on enforcement best practices, including on private land and seek for this to be voluntarily adopted by statutory bodies.

Action Score: +/?

Initially raise current fixed penalties issued by Police, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park for flytipping to the maximum (£500) and explore possibility of raising the maximum further at a later date.

Action Score: +/?

Explore raising current fixed penalties that can be issue by SEPA for flytipping offences to the maximum (£1000) and explore possibility of raising the maximum further at a later date.

Action Score: +/?

Review existing legislative powers for enforcing flytipping offences.

Action Score: +/?

Explore the ability to remove, suspend or deny Waste Carrier’s Registration to individuals/companies fined for flytipping.

Action Score: +/?

Support information sharing on flytipping incidents and offenders between Local Authorities, Police and National Parks.

Action Score: +

Create powers to enable seizure of vehicles by SEPA used in flytipping.

Action Score: +/?

Explore the possibility and benefits of using civil penalties to enforce flytipping offences.

Action Score: ?


There is limited evidence available to confirm the effectiveness of more stringent enforcement measures at preventing flytipping (see Table 4-3 for Biodiversity). The actions proposed for a review of enforcement measures (including barriers to enforcement, existing powers, guidance on best practice, removal of Waste Carrier Registrations, and seizure of vehicles), should improve understanding of what is effective in combating flytipping. These actions may improve the availability of resources in flytipped material and reduce waste deposited in landfills, however the level of effectiveness at preventing flytipping is uncertain at this stage.

Sharing information on flytipping between Local Authorities, Police and National Parks should improve the opportunities for recovering resources in flytipped material, which would also reduce pressure on landfill sites and have some positive impacts for material assets.
It is considered that an increase in fines for flytipping offences should provide some form of deterrent and subsequent positive effects for material assets, although as discussed previously in the Biodiversity topic (see Table 4-3), the effectiveness of using higher financial penalties to reduce flytipping is not certain. Further details on the use civil penalties and their effectiveness are required before the effects on material assets can be determined.

Data and Research – Actions

Overall Score: +/?

Create a data sharing agreement and work with Local Authorities, other duty bodies, National Parks, private landowners and land managers, businesses and the third sector to improve consistency of data collected in Scotland.

Action Score: +

Explore and seek to support the use of appropriate technology in data collection.

Action Score: +/?

Work with stakeholders to improve consistency of data collection in Scotland.

Action Score: ++

Explore incorporating data into a national database.

Action Score: +/?

Review the Dumb Dumpers system and ensure that a fit for purpose mechanism for citizen reporting of flytipping exists in Scotland.

Action Score: +/?

Explore the development of a live picture of flytipping across Scotland.

Action Score: 0/?


Improved data sharing between SEPA, Police, Local Authorities and other statutory bodies would allow for better data collection and interpretation to monitor the impact of fly-tipping on material assets.

Exploration of technology to streamline and facilitate the reporting of data may improve reporting rates by local authorities and landowners though it is not certain how this would be implemented or received by users.

Differences in reporting techniques between authorities means data is often incomplete and complicates interpretation of data. Therefore, a more consistent approach is expected would deliver significant benefits in assessing the overall status of flytipping in Scotland, with positive effects expected in terms of resource recovery and reducing landfill disposal.

National fly-tipping databases (FlyCapture and WasteDataFlow (WDF)) are currently in use. However, they have not been adopted universally by authorities and the information available is therefore not comprehensive, so there is uncertainty regarding the significance of the benefits for this action. A review of the Dumb Dumpers platform for citizen reporting of flytipping incidents may help to improve information available on flytipped material and options for onward management, although the level of significance is uncertain. More frequent and localised data would aid monitoring and identify areas of concern. However, ‘live’ reporting of data may prove complex to implement and provide limited benefits in terms of monitoring the impact of the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy on material assets.

8.4 Mitigation and Enhancement

The following measures are suggested to enhance the proposals in the new National Litter and Flytipping strategy, with respect to material assets:

  • As with the suggestion for climatic factors, a review and promotion of the options for recycling of commonly flytipped materials should be considered, as this would support maintaining the value of resources and reduce the pressure on landfill sites.
  • More frequent studies into littering and flytipping arisings would improve accuracy of the resources available in these materials.
  • If a robust system for live reporting on flytipping incidents is introduced then ‘real time’ monitoring could consider capturing key metrics on the quantities and composition of materials, which help in measuring the effectiveness of the strategy proposals.

Please also refer to Section 4.4 Mitigation and Enhancement for the Biodiversity topic for a list of recommendations supporting the wider aims to prevent or improve management of litter and flytipped materials, which are considered to be common to each environmental topic.



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