- A decade and a half of environmental legislation
- It's never too early to learn about the climate emergency
- Our strategy to inspire action for our environment
- FARE Lochend - Where good news is standard
- Glashieburn's LEAF journey
- An Interview with Travel Influencer Chris Lawlor
- Climate action with hope and optimism
- The Big River Irvine Riverbank Clean
- Eating nettles and gazing at clouds: a LEAF reflection
- #TakeItBack to the start
- Dalry Primary School's LEAF journey
- Pedalling towards a sustainable future
- Chirnside Primary School's LEAF journey
- Flowerbank Early Childhood Centre's Pocket Garden Experience
- To keep Scotland beautiful we all need to take action
- Applegarth and Hutton’s LEAF journey
- Our hope for a nature positive Scotland
- Becoming a Platinum Carbon Literate Organisation
- Volunteering with KSB and loving every minute
- We are all accountable for our actions
- Hillhead students talk keeping Kelvingrove Park beautiful
- Making it easy to choose a reusable cup for takeaway drinks
- Get to know...John MacLennan
- Get to know...Sandy Scott
- How Eco-Schools benefits pupils, teachers and communities
- Community gardening for climate, nature and heritage in Cumbernauld
- Tackling the litter emergency to protect our wild isles
- Scotland isn't looking so beautiful. We can change that.
- Get to know... Green Flag Award Judges
- Collaboration and innovation to tackle marine litter
- An introduction to Kinnesswood in Bloom...
- Our charity faces the environmental challenges ahead with optimism
- Wrapping up 2022
- Biodiversity - Reflections on COP15
- Small steps to protect biodiversity
- Why Mountains Matter
- It’s not just bees and butterflies on your flowers
- Wet Wipes - What's the Issue?
- Young Reporters on the Route: The Launch of Running Out of Time
- Getting to know... Tom Brock OBE
- Getting to know...Kyle Usher
- A busy day for Upstream Battle education
- Planning a Wedding with the Planet in Mind
- 'Disposable' vapes and the damage they cause
- Climate Emergency Training provides positive opportunities for young people
- Making climate action possible for everyone
- Reasons to be positive
- Shotts is ACTing NOW on climate change
- Hope is a Garden
- Do we need the word 'pests' anymore?
- Beautiful Scotland judging - the truth
- Supporting Scotland to be the very greenest destination it can be
- Arbroath - working together, inspiring local climate action and improving lives
- Reflections of a beach manager
- I do like to be beside the seaside
- Climate Action Schools - helping young people take action
- Inspiring and empowering young people
- Climate Ready Classrooms at George Heriot's
- 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
The litter emergency is here. We have been warning that it is coming for a number of years, but our data now confirms it.
People are really concerned. In fact, nearly nine out of 10 of us think that litter is a significant concern – I find it hard to think of another issue on which people so strongly agree.
What is more worrying is that the most deprived communities feel most impacted by Scotland's growing litter problem as stated in our update report 'Time for a new approach: tackling the litter emergency'.
In our report we outline some damning stats from a major survey of streets and a public perception poll. The avalanche of evidence spanning two decades, shows a continuing picture of decline. And, worryingly, the public mood is that the situation isn’t improving, despite our best efforts.
The causes and consequences of litter and the behaviours that lead to it are complex and are impacted politically, culturally and economically.
One thing is clear - litter is still being dropped. And the same unsustainable consumption habits and throwaway culture fuelling the twin climate and nature crises are also driving the litter emergency.
Once again cigarette litter is the most common item found, with it being recorded on 62.7% of all sites surveyed. But this year we have again recorded the highest percentage of sites with fast food related litter in a decade – we’ve all seen single-use bottles, cans, burger and chip wrappers strewn by the roadside. With some of this waste being eligible for the Scottish Government’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), currently scheduled to be implemented next August, it provides some insight into the proportion of litter that could be reduced in future.
We first reported a decline in local environmental quality in 2016 across all parts of Scotland. Now it is damaging our communities and costing us more than a £1million a week to deal with. A further delay to real action will only cost us more in the long run.
We know that the public and key stakeholders want to see more done to reduce litter levels, and this was mirrored in the responses to the Scottish Government consultation on a new Litter and Flytipping Strategy for Scotland. We look forward to the new strategy being launched in early 2023, but are very clear that this, and any supporting action plan, must be properly resourced in order for it to be effective, have a positive impact and meet the expectations of communities and other stakeholders across Scotland.
Despite the depressing evidence, we remain hopeful, and urge everyone to take crucial positive action. We all need to consider what we buy, throw away, and how we treat the places we live, work and visit. Only by changing our own behaviours can we keep Scotland beautiful.
We know that tackling the litter problem in Scotland will help us solve the global climate and nature crises, so we urge everyone from the private and public sectors and individuals to join us to make our country litter free. Just as members from one of our community clean up hubs - Three Towns Clean Up Crew in North Ayrshire - did this year collecting 2,714 bags of litter.
Everyone needs to take ownership of this issue. Everyone can play their part. And we are committed to support those who want to, whether that is taking part in a litter pick as part of our annual Spring Clean from 17 March – 17 April, carrying out a citizen science survey, sharing messages that littering is unacceptable or binning litter and entering the LitterLotto prize draw.
Additionally, we are calling for stakeholders to urgently collaborate and innovate to deliver positive and impactful campaigns, projects, and interventions to reduce litter in our communities and reverse the litter emergency we have been warning of.
First published in The Scotsman on 26 January 2023