The review of the 2014 National Litter Strategy identified a wide range of positive work has been undertaken by Scottish Government in partnership with other organisations. However, challenges still exist. Keep Scotland Beautiful published a report, “Time for a new approach to tackling litter,” in December 2020 that evidenced the ongoing decline in local environmental quality across Scotland and highlighted the effects of the pandemic on public perceptions of litter in their local area.
The national Local Environmental Auditing and Monitoring System (LEAMS) data for 2020/21 demonstrates that litter continues to be a challenge for communities across Scotland, showing an increase in the number of locations with significant amounts of litter present, with urban local authorities observing the biggest decline in local environmental quality.
Keep Scotland Beautiful conducted the Scottish Litter Survey, which assessed public attitude and perceptions to litter and littering behaviour. The survey highlighted that 88% of people agreed that litter is a problem across Scotland, and that 70% agree that it is a problem in their local area.
This survey also found that when people were asked who was responsible for preventing litter, 63% of respondents deemed individuals and consumers ‘entirely responsible’ for the prevention of littering. Furthermore, the results demonstrated significant support for initiatives focused on preventing littering, especially improved waste disposal facilities and education and awareness campaigns.
This strategy will have a six year life-span and actions will include short (2 years), medium (4 years) and long (6+ years) term timescales for completion.
2.1 Behaviour Change
The National Litter Strategy (2014) outlined interventions to improve messaging about litter, including using consistent messaging that encourage the public and motivate behaviour change. The published review of this strategy in 2019 outlined the actions that were carried out under this strategy, including communications campaigns, litter prevention communication toolkit and improved resources for schools.
Since the review of the National Litter Strategy in 2019, Zero Waste Scotland in partnership with Scottish Government and Keep Scotland Beautiful have developed a national anti-littering campaign, Scotland is Stunning. This campaign had two phases, which ran in summer 2020 and summer 2021 to address litter challenges that arose during the pandemic. “Scotland is Stunning – let’s keep it that way” aimed to inspire people getting out and about to enjoy the outdoors and urged them to bin their litter or take it home. The campaign also included a tool kit which allowed stakeholders to tailor resources to their local area.
Zero Waste Scotland, in partnership with Keep Scotland Beautiful and Scottish Government also developed messaging to address litter that occurred as the result of the pandemic, including messaging around disposing of face coverings responsibly and encouraging the use of reusable face coverings.
Individuals and organisations have greater awareness of the problems caused by litter, understand their responsibilities in preventing litter and are motivated to behave responsibly.
Objective 1: Understand litter perceptions and behaviour to allow targeted approaches to be developed.
Research is necessary to underpin any behaviour change interventions that are developed under the strategy and having further Scottish specific information would help to identify behaviours and audiences that are a priority to reach with targeted actions.
Action 1.1: Conduct research to understand the full range of influences on littering behaviours across various contexts and audience groups
1. (a) Do you support the proposed action to conduct research to understand the full range of influences on littering behaviours (action 1.1)? Yes / No / Do not know
(b) Please give reason(s) for your answer.
Objective 2: Develop and adopt a shared approach between Scottish Government, local authorities, public agencies and the third sector, to litter prevention and behaviour change across Scotland
We want to build on the successes of previous successful campaigns, whilst learning from these experiences and responding to stakeholder feedback that there is a need to develop new more effective and targeted campaigns and interventions that effectively encourage responsible disposal of litter. This can be achieved through the development of a national anti-litter behaviour campaign, run over a number of years and supported by shorter life campaigns targeted at specific issues, regions, areas or audiences. This shared approach would include the development of common aims, more strategic communications and use of common language to effectively communicate the environmental, health and economic cost of littering and what can be done to prevent it.
Action 2.1: Develop a sustained, evidence based, national anti-littering behaviour change campaign and deliver this consistently and collaboratively with stakeholders across Scotland
2. (a) Do you support the proposed action to develop and adopt a national anti-littering behaviour change campaign (action 2.1)? Yes / No / Do not know
(b) Please give reason(s) for your answer
3. Which topics should be a priority to address by behaviour change interventions?
4. Is there a need to develop a standard definition for litter that can be used across Scotland? Yes / No / Do not know
2.2 Services and Infrastructure
Services and infrastructure capture the suite of interventions that ensure facilities and services are accessible and make it easy for people to appropriately dispose of their waste to prevent it becoming litter. This theme includes services and infrastructure offered by local authorities and other statutory bodies, but also more widely recognises the role that is played by businesses, communities and the third sector.
Scotland’s services and infrastructure are fit for purpose, encourage responsible behaviour, and prioritise action and innovation that proactively prevents litter and supports a circular economy.
Objective 3: Improve our understanding of the sources, amount and composition of litter
A better understanding of the sources, amount and composition of litter will enable a picture of the current situation in Scotland to be developed and aid in the monitoring and evaluation of strategy actions. This knowledge base will allow targeted interventions to be developed and trialled and inform service optimisation. The review of the National Litter Strategy identified the consistency of data collection as an area that needs to be strengthened.
In 2013, Zero Waste Scotland published a report, which estimated the scale and cost of litter and flytipping in Scotland. It was estimated that public bodies spend approximately £43 million per year on preventing, clearing and enforcing litter, with a further £10 million spent on flytipping. Scottish Government has commissioned research to provide updated estimates on the direct and indirect costs to public bodies and private landowners as well as updated estimates on litter composition.
The Scottish Government is also working with other administrations on the introduction of an extended producer responsibility scheme for packaging, which is intended to recover from producers the full net cost of handling packaging when it becomes waste. As part of this, consideration is being given to the inclusion of some element of the cost of handling litter.
Data and research on the composition and spatial distribution of litter is essential for developing essential services and infrastructure. The review of the National Litter Strategy identified that the consistency of data collection needs to be improved and strengthened.
Currently, many different organisations hold data on litter. LEAMS has been used since 2003 in Scotland to collect data on local environmental quality, including litter. This data is collected by local authorities and administered by Keep Scotland Beautiful. This will be integrated with the new Litter Monitoring System which will provide greater consistency, increase transparency in cleanliness grades and provide more granular data on the levels of litter. Other organisations hold data on litter in Scotland and a review of this available data will identify and aid a comprehensive understanding of the data available.
A standard approach to collecting data will ensure data consistency across organisations, maximise use of data and help to build a national picture of littering. It will also support longer term aims to identify commonly littered items, development of targeted interventions and support enforcement activity.
Citizen science is a powerful tool that can contribute to achieving this aim, which has been evidenced by existing citizen science projects such as the Marine Conservation Society’s Beach Watch. We therefore propose to support and encourage citizen science initiatives that build on the success of these existing projects.
Action 3.1: 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 3.2: Identify commonly littered items and litter hotspots and work with local authorities and other duty bodies to develop targeted interventions to reduce litter,
Action 3.3: Increase the use of citizen science to support data on the amount and composition of litter in Scotland.
2. Do you support the following proposed actions to:
- Action 3.1: Review available litter data and reach an agreement between stakeholders on a common approach to data collection? Yes / No / Do not know
- Action 3.2: Identify commonly littered items and litter hotspots and work with local authorities to develop targeted interventions? Yes / No / Do not know
- Action 3.3: Increase the use of citizen science to support data on the amount and composition of litter? Yes / No / Do not know
(b) Please give reason(s) for your answer.
6. What would encourage increased participation in citizen science data
3. What would encourage increased participation in citizen science data collection?
Objective 4: Encourage a shared approach to services that will effectively support litter prevention
The review of the National Litter Strategy suggested that there needs to be greater sharing of services, resources, aims and objectives across local authorities, national parks and other bodies with a statutory duty to clear litter in Scotland.
Under the previous strategy, the Code of Practice for Litter and Refuse (CoPLaR) 2006 was reviewed, updated and a new statutory guidance document was published in June 2018, along with training on how to implement it. It aimed to improve clarity around the balance that should be taken between prevention and clean up within the duties stated in section 89 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to ensure that the land is kept clear of litter and refuse. In order to understand whether CoPLaR 2018 has been successfully implemented by duty holders, a review will take place.
The review and engagement process suggested that there needs to be a more flexible approach to managing cleansing and waste activities to prevent litter, including: smart bins and temporary bins at hotspots or linked to seasonal activity (for example at festivals). The use of technology to identify litter and collect data will also be explored.
Action 4.1: Carry out a review of the development, implementation and progress of the Code of Practice for Litter and Refuse (2018)
Action 4.2 Explore the use of flexible and innovative interventions to support litter prevention and removal
Action 4.3: Establish an action focused group to encourage collaboration and share best practice between local authorities, national parks and other duty bodies to optimise services.
7. (a) Do you support the proposed actions to:
- Action 4.1: Review CoPLaR (2018) and its implementation by duty holders? Yes / No / Do not know
- Action 4.2: Explore the use of flexible and innovative interventions to support litter prevention and removal? Yes / No / Do not know
- Action 4.3: Establish an action focused group to encourage collaboration and share best practice between local authorities, national parks and other duty bodies? Yes / No / Do not know
(b) Please give reason(s) for your answers
8. Please provide examples of flexible or innovative interventions that have or have not worked well.
9. How can increased collaboration and information sharing across local authorities, national parks and other duty bodies be achieved?
Objective 5: Empower community groups to take action
We recognise the important work carried out by community groups to tackle litter across Scotland. Establishing a national litter hub will provide an online resource that can provide advice and support to communities, in their efforts to prevent and clear litter, and improve local environmental quality. This would include opportunities to access funding, litter picking equipment, campaign materials, citizen science resources and health and safety information.
Creating a community-focused litter education programme would enable communities to develop the capacity and capability to tackle litter and littering behaviour, engage with local stakeholders and effectively utilise the resources available through the national litter hub to plan and undertake action in their area.
Action 5.1: Create a national litter hub to provide information and advice to community groups
Action 5.2: Create a community-focused litter education programme to enable communities to develop the capacity and capability to tackle littering behaviour at a local level
10. (a) Do you support the proposed actions to:
- Action 5.1: Create a national litter hub to provide information to community groups? Yes / No / Do not know
- Action 5.2: Create a community-focused litter education programme? Yes / No / Do not know
(b) Please give reason(s) for your answer.
11. What advice, information and support should be included in a national litter hub?
What topics should be included in a community-focused litter education programme?
12. What topics should be included in a community-focused litter education
Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Action Act 1990 defines the criminal offence of leaving litter as throwing down or dropping an item in any public open space or certain other designated places. If an authorised person has reason to believe that a person has littered, they can issue that person with an Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). Under the National Litter Strategy (2014), the fixed penalty amount for littering was raised to £80 and could be raised by secondary legislation to a maximum amount of £500. Powers to issue FPNs were extended in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park in 2015. Currently, local authorities, Police Scotland and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National park have powers to issue FPNs for littering and to undertake any follow up.
If an FPN is rejected or is not paid within the notice period, the issuing authority can refer the matter to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) who will make a decision as to any further action. COPFS has the direction to make a conditional offer of fixed penalty, compensation, or unpaid work as a means of discharging criminal liability. If the matter is prosecuted and the person convicted, they may be fined up to £2500.
There is a strong and consistent enforcement model across Scotland that is fit for purpose, promotes positive behaviours and acts as a proportionate deterrent and effectively stops people from littering.
Objective 6: Develop a more effective enforcement model
The review of the previous National Litter Strategy has highlighted a number of challenges in the enforcement process, including: ability to gather appropriate evidence, identify offenders and recover fines. This poses challenges in issuing fines and prosecuting offenders as evidenced in Table 2. Data on the number of FPNs issued is held by individual issuing authorities.
|Year||Total prosecuted||Total convicted|
It has also been suggested that a lack of a consistent approach to enforcement across Scotland is a barrier to deterring behaviour. An evidence review of the barriers to current enforcement practices will help to inform what changes are needed to ensure that Scotland’s enforcement model is effective and deters people from littering. This review will inform further action, including any necessary legislative changes, that will need to be taken.
The review of the National Litter Strategy and engagement with stakeholders has identified areas where enforcement could be strengthened. This includes raising fines, alternative penalties (such as litter picks and education courses) to FPNs, extending powers to other organisations to issue FPNs and using civil penalties to enforce littering offences (making it easier to collect unpaid fines). These actions will be explored, with a view to make necessary changes subject to the review process.
Roadside litter poses a number of challenges; removing litter from the main road network is costly and disruptive as roads often need to be closed to facilitate litter picking safely and this often has to be co-ordinated with other services. Over a six month period in 2021, 5396 black bags and 1853 large items were collected from the M8 and M74.
Littering is already a criminal offence under section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and this can include littering from a vehicle. However, it can be difficult to ascertain who is responsible for the act when littering from a vehicle. Introducing new powers that will allow an FPN to be issued to the registered keeper of a vehicle from which littering occurs would increase the deterrent effect and the options available to enforcement officers.
Action 6.1: Conduct an evidence review of barriers to enforcement of litter offences
Action 6.2: Explore raising current fixed penalty notice amounts for a litter offence
Action 6.3: Explore potential alternative penalties to monetary fixed penalties for a litter offence
Action 6.4: Create powers to issue fixed penalty notices to registered keepers of a vehicle from which littering occurs
13. (a) Do you support proposed actions on enforcement of litter offences to:
- Action 6.1: Conduct an evidence review of barriers to enforcement? Yes / No / Do not know
- Action 6.2: Explore raising current fixed penalty notice amounts? Yes / No / Do not know
- Action 6.3: Explore potential alternative penalties to monetary fixed penalties? Yes / No / Do not know
(b) Please give reason(s) for your answers.
Objective 7: Improve the consistency of enforcement practices
Feedback from stakeholder is that identifying offenders and collecting sufficient evidence is a barrier to enforcing littering offences. Providing practical guidance for statutory bodies on collecting evidence and enforcement, in conjunction with other actions to help identify offenders, will help improve conviction rates.
Action 7.1: Review and further develop guidance on enforcement best practices and seek agreement for this to be voluntarily adopted by local authorities and national parks.
14. (a) Do you support the proposed action to review and further develop guidance on enforcement best practices (action 7.1)? Yes / No / Do not know
(b) Please give reason(s) for your answer.
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