Your charity for Scotland’s environment

Raising the profile of drinks related litter

The challenge

Drinks related litter, including cups, is noticed by 55% of people in their community and annual audits highlight a general presence of drinks related litter on almost 40% of our survey sites, rising to 70% on roadside verges. 

As a nation, we use 208million single use cups a year for soup, cold drinks and a variety of hot drinks, all of these cups end up as unnecessary waste, and many as litter - our surveys show that 16% of discarded cups are from cold drinks, not coffee and by roadsides Our 9% of all litter found is single use cups.

We wanted to raise the profile of the issues linked to our relationship with single use drinks packaging, to engage with new audiences, and to promote a step change in everyday consumption and disposal habits.


Our expertise

Our people have extensive experience of creating, running and analysing innovative approaches to tackle littering behaviour. We have worked with a range of partners on a variety of projects across Scotland as well as providing education to schools on the damaging effects of litter through our Eco-Schools Scotland programme and supporting communities to take action through our Clean Up Scotland and community campaigns.


Co-creation: our partners

We identified an opportunity to coordinate an exciting exhibition to utilise space in the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, when an exhibitor pulled out and space became available on 24 / 25 October 2017.  We worked with respected Littoral:sci-art project artist Julia Barton, to scope a massive centre piece sculpture to highlight the problem of single use coffee cups.

We also worked in with industry partners, Simply Cups and RECOUP, which provided information and installations to showcase the recycling journey of both coffee cups and plastic bottles in to other useful items which could be displayed.


Delivery: a thought-provoking exhibition at the Glasgow Gallery for Modern Art

As the UN’s Sustainable Development Global Goals acknowledge, we have been living unsustainably, using resources that cannot be replaced or reused. Global Goal 12 – ‘responsible consumption and production’ was therefore at the heart of our approach to tackling our relationship with all single use items. 

We wanted the exhibition to shock visitors with the amount of litter and waste associated with these single use cups and bottles. 

We commissioned a centre piece exhibit, from artist Julia Barton, which depicted a massive sculpture made from coffee cups – highlighting the 208million single use coffee cups we use in Scotland each year. 

Other exhibits were selected following two competitions which we coordinated – one targeted at school pupils from Greater Glasgow and a second aimed at members of the community from across Scotland. 

The school competition challenged pupils to investigate the issues caused by drinks containers at both a global and Scottish level, and create a piece of art as the culmination of their work.  The top five entries, of 24 submitted, were displayed as part of the exhibiton, and the winner, Sunnyside Primary School, was presented with first place for its campaign #NaeStrawAtAw artwork – a gannet with a see through stomach full of plastics and straws by Glasgow City Convener for Environment and Sustainability.

Three community entry images, from a photo and caption competition, were also on display, and the overall winner was from a member of Milngavie in Bloom, with a striking photo entitled ‘the morning after the night before’ highlighting a drinking den of bottles and cans.

During the exhibit visitors, from Scotland and further afield, were promoted to share their thoughts on single use drinks containers and pose potential solutions to the growing issue.  More critically, they were asked to commit to changing their behaviour following the exhibit. 


Over two days, 2,600 members of the public from Glasgow, and visitors to Scotland, visited the #SipDontTip exhibit in the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow.

Twenty-four schools from the Glasgow area took part in the competition to design artwork to display at the exhibition.

The exhibition, competitions and issues were covered by five media outlets, generating a reach of 44,573 and an advertising value equivalent (AVE) of £4,965.76.  We covered the competitions and exhibitions on our social media channels with posts from our @KSBScotland twitter account reaching 51,083 and attracting an engagement of 1,259.  On @KSBScotland @CleanUpScotland and @EcoSchoolsScot Facebook accounts we posted 12 time generating a post engagement of 504 and a reach of 5,686.


Incredible exhibit! Thank you so much for the valuable lessons about our environment and what it needs. You guys are so inspiring. Look forward to seeing the changes you will create in our world. - Megan, New York

Some good recycling ideas – makes you think. Really good. I am conscious of the issue more!


Our legacy

The exhibit brought together members of industry, public sector and communities together for the first time.  It also helped us to raise the profile of the issue of single use drinks containers in Glasgow. 

We believe that, from discussions we have had with a wide range of organisations, including Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group (PCRRG) and retailers like COSTA, the Food Packaging Association (FPA) that the exhibition has created a robust platform to develop a range of further interventions around single use drinks containers using a place based approach to rolling out a suite of interventions for Glasgow in the future.

We continue to explore new ways of changing behaviour and are keen to work with industry to provide innovative and appropriate business solutions.

(links to related documents – case studies from schools / entries?)