Shifting up a gear on Scotland’s roadside litter problem
A blog post by Derek Robertson
- Data drives decisions
- Litter, fines and doing time
- Why our Web Developer Cameron loves being part of Team KSB
- It's only one
- Why join the family of It’s Your Neighbourhood?
- YoungScot Legacy Event
- Why it is the sea and SDG 14 for me
- Litter picking - a surprisingly fun group activity
- Climate Action Skills and positive action for all
- Seeing community groups thrive with Beautiful Scotland and It's Your Neighbourhood
- (What to do on) a dreich morning on the Firth of Clyde
- West Lothian Litter Pickers – How I got involved
- Scotland’s Climate Festival – Seed funding for community action
- Climate Ready Classrooms at St. Paul’s RC High School
- Scottish Book Trust representative joins Pocket Garden judging panel
- Have #YourSayOnLitter - we plan to...
- Everyone has something to say about litter – time to make it count
- Who ya gonna call?
- Why I pick up other people's garbage.
- Getting to Know...Colin
- Creative Careers: Spotlight on Heritage #NoWrongPath
- Celebrating Scotland’s best managed green and blue spaces
- Taking small steps towards a more sustainable future
- Caring for our planet
- Football’s Power to Combat Climate Change
- Our work on the COP26 Youth Climate Programme
- What’s litter got to do with climate change?
- Scotland’s Climate Festival kicks off in Falkirk
- Responsible Tourism – an opportunity not to be missed
- Climate Change Vlog by Dalry Primary School
- Failing our future?
- Our Week of Climate Action
- #ScotClimateWeek - our impacts and actions
- Protecting the sand and sea
- Another fine mess – part one
- Designing a lower carbon Scotland
- Getting to know... Lisa Snedden
- Combating climate change with information, education and training
- Litter picking 500 miles was always Gonna Be easy
- 7K for 7 Flags Challenge
- Littering less at St Joseph's Primary School in Glasgow
- Smashing litter picking targets during an unexpected stay in Scotland
- Keeping our communities beautiful
- Celebrating our brilliant volunteers
- Designing a pocket garden
- Getting to know... Nicola Smith
- East Haven Together
- It’s time to litter-ly turn anger into action
- Working in partnership to give communities a helping hand to clean up Scotland
- Why Beautiful Scotland is important to Lauder in Bloom
- We can all be climate ready
- Climate Ready Classrooms at Speyside High School
- Taking part in It's Your Neighbourhood
- Bags of opportunity for good
- Getting to know... Eve Keepax
- Lucky to live here
- A year of opportunity ahead
- How I’m trying to waste less this Christmas
- Unmasking a looming litter emergency
- Getting to know... Brian Rae
- A Canal College® journey
- Volunteering during a pandemic
- Applauding the unsung heroes who manage our award winning parks and beaches
- Socially distant but learning together
- Getting to know.......Lisa Snedden
- Waste vs the pandemic: finding a new normal for single-use cups
- Now is the time to change
- Could the Global Goals provide a framework for the green recovery?
- Getting to know....Connor Launder
- Our incredible Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood community
- Getting to know our people behind Climate Ready Classrooms
- Lockdown litter - a community view
- Looking after beaches
- Time for a more sustainable future, a greener and fairer one for all
- Getting to know.....Claire Gibson
- The Origins of George Wyllie's 'Original Earth Guarantee'
- Getting to know... Aoife Hutton
- National disgrace of lockdown litter
- The healing power of local places
- Tackling Covid-19 and climate change at a community level
- Amid the Coronavirus crisis the climate emergency has not gone away
- Bringing environmental education home
- #TurdTag – getting creative to tackle dog poo
- Preparing young people to take action on climate change
- Running on community power
- Reconnecting with nature
- Coronavirus isn't an excuse - flytipping is still a crime
- Sowing seeds of hope in our community
- Hope for the environment post-Coronavirus?
- From Eco-School Committee to environmental charity
- You can’t tackle the climate crisis unless you are climate ready
- Why everyone wins when you take part in Beautiful Scotland
- Entering our third decade with a splash
- Is 2020 the year for a circular economy in Scotland?
- A year in the life of: the campaigns and innovation team
- Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime
- Setting sail: all aboard the partnership
- Free wheeling
- Scotland is thirsty for change
- This #ScotClimateWeek, are you ready to pledge?
- Upstream Battle at Whinhill Primary School
- Elaine Hopley on our Upstream Battle week of action
- 20 September climate strikes: what took place and what happens now?
- Playing our part to reduce cup waste
- The funeral of a glacier: time to pull the emergency brake
- Get your Paws on Plastic
- It’s time to take action to reverse climate change
- Tackling Our Unsustainable Cup Consumption
- Cups hitting the ground: what we learned at TRNSMT Festival
- We All Have To Fight The UpStream Battle
- It's rubbish that people have to clean up after litter bugs
- The power of pocket gardens
- Registering your clean up makes a difference
- Tackling climate change starts at home
- Speaking the language of Carbon Literacy
- The life of a Keep Scotland Beautiful intern
- Wheatley Group: two years on and still going strong
- Roadside Litter: Think twice before you chuck
- Our citizen scientists are ready to make waves for Upstream Battle
- Taking a stand on climate change – what actions will you take?
- The Cup Movement will tackle our litter culture head on
- Working across borders to tackle climate change
- Celebrating 25 years of Eco-Schools in Scotland
- Climate change – it’s personal
- Putting young people first for our environment at Keep Scotland Beautiful
- Treading lightly – steps to lower our carbon footprint
- Aunty Babs washes her spoon and so should you
- Climate change: we can all do our bit
- Have yourself a green Christmas
- It’s time to consign our litter problem to the dustbin of history
- We can save our seas by starting at home
- Everyone can do their bit to protect the world – what’s your Goal?
It is often said that you can judge a society by what it throws away, and the public policy attention now focusing on plastic bottles, food packaging, a deposit return scheme and the circular economy is a welcome consequence of that. But you can also judge a society by how it disposes of its litter, and any time spent driving around Scotland will quickly give you the impression that we have become very careless in how we discard that which we don’t need.
Look at almost any verge at the side of the road, any roundabout or motorway slip-road, and you’ll see a large amounts of litter discarded by those who are intent on keeping their cars clean, yet dirtying our roadsides.
Our charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has been tackling the issue of roadside litter for almost two years - leading on a campaign founded by a coalition of some of the biggest names in soft drinks and convenience foods - determined to turn the tide on the thoughtless discarding of litter on our roads. We’ve had a simple message for drivers and their passengers - Give your litter a lift. Take it home!
At its heart, this is a problem caused by individual behaviour; a proportion of road users who are happy to trade littered roadsides for a clean car interior. The first phase of our campaign has had the effect of significantly raising the profile of the issue, and now 86% of the Scottish population agree with us that the country has a problem with the scale of litter at the side of our roads. It is little wonder, when 50 tonnes of litter are lifted from Scotland’s roadsides every month. Yet, despite that massive clean-up effort, the problem keeps growing and 91% agree with us that it creates a negative impression of Scotland for visitors.
We need to do more, and in the next phase of our Anti-Roadside Litter campaign, we will start to turn up the heat on those whose thoughtless actions on Scotland’s roads are at the root of the problem. Almost two years into our campaign, it’s clear to us that the solution comes in three parts.
Firstly, we need to inform and educate all road users of the true scale of impact arising from their disrespect for our environment. Too often, they seem blind to the impact of throwing that plastic bottle or cup from their window – both on our environment and communities and those who put their lives at risk to clean it up. We need to change that.
Secondly, we need to work on improved infrastructure to make responsible disposal of litter as straightforward as possible - whether that is disposing or recycling on the go or taking litter home. We have had outstanding success with our car litter bags, encouraging people to give their litter a lift home, but even more substantial impact will be delivered by improved bin infrastructure. This can mean better servicing and maintenance of existing bins or better placement of bins too, with some of our research yielding mounting evidence that, in remote locations, removing bins can be the best strategy as they end up creating more litter than they capture. We’re working with a range of public agencies and the private sector to make responsible disposal easy and to encourage more people to take their litter home. This needs to be the new norm for our society. We also need to encourage haulers and other fleet managers to hold their drivers to account.
And finally, we need to deliver on enforcement. This cannot all be about positive encouragement, it has to have a harder edge too. Causing litter is wrong, but it is also illegal. Fixed penalty notices can be issued to those littering whilst walking through town centres. But we need to give prosecutors the tools necessary to bring action against those who litter from their cars too. This is already happening in other countries where the registered keeper of the vehicle is liable for any litter thrown from the car.
Work needs to start now on the steps necessary to deliver that change. We will continue to engage with the Scottish Government and other key stakeholders such as Transport Scotland, local authorities and transport and tourism operators to make sure we’re tackling this problem effectively.
Yes, we will continue to provide information and education on the consequences, and yes, we will fight for better bin infrastructure, but now is the time when we need to start using the stick as well as the carrot to change behaviours and to make our roadsides cleaner.
First published in The Scotsman, 20 November 2018