Scotland is a beautiful country and we all have a responsibility to keep it that way.
Towards a Litter-free Scotland is a strategic approach to creating higher quality local environments for everyone. It is the start of a journey with social, economic and environmental benefits for us all. And it's everyone's responsibility to do the right thing.
A litter-free Scotland matters to us as a society and as individuals. The way we feel about where we live, work and spend our leisure time has a huge impact on our health and wellbeing. One tonne of litter is around 20,000 visible items  . Spread out along a pavement that would be one item, every metre, for 20 kilometres.
A litter-free Scotland matters to our economy. We don't want litter to affect the experience of visitors to Scotland or the places we do business. And the £53 million  of public money which is spent tackling litter and flytipping each year could be better spent on other services. Littered items such as plastic bottles and aluminium cans could also be worth £1.2 million  when recycled.
A litter-free Scotland also matters to our environment and wildlife. Designing out waste from products and services, and recycling materials that might otherwise become litter and flytipping, protects natural resources and helps to reduce harmful greenhouse gases.
With this, the first national litter strategy for Scotland, we are providing leadership on waste prevention. It helps people to do the right thing with waste, and places an emphasis on efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle more.
To help people make the right choices, and do the right thing, we have improved our litter communications. And to help deter offending, we have introduced higher fixed penalties for littering and flytipping. These reinforce wider efforts to improve local environments through activities such as street cleansing and encouraging people to clean up after their dogs.
As we build on the work already underway, it is vital that all the organisations with responsibilities and interests in tackling litter and flytipping work together. This strategy, and the forthcoming Marine Litter Strategy, provides a focus for doing so. I am grateful to the people and organisations which have shaped this approach through dialogue and consultation. I look forward to continued co-operation and collaboration as we take both strategies forward.
By doing the right thing, we can start to make a difference and enjoy cleaner, safer communities, and a cleaner, safer Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment