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The National Litter and Flytipping Strategy

In June 2023 the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy was published. It sets out how everyone, from businesses, government and communities can help tackle litter and flytipping. Litter and flytipping are split, and the strategy covers three strategic themes – behaviour change, infrastructure and services, and enforcement. The objectives and approach to delivery can be found in the strategy. An Action Plan for the first year of delivery was published at the same time which outlines 20 actions, alongside lead organisations for each; either Scottish Government, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Zero Waste Scotland.

Marine Litter Strategy

In September 2022 a refreshed Marine Litter Strategy was published. It sets out how we can improve attitudes and behaviours of people and businesses, reduce litter sources, improve data collection and monitoring, remove litter and crucially coordinate efforts regionally (working alongside the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy) and internationally. A Marine Litter Strategy Steering Group support on-going actions and development of this strategy.

Upcoming legislation to tackle litter

There is some legislation due to come into force which addresses both littering behaviours and specific items.

The Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill looks to help develop a circular economy, in that things are designed, made and used in a way that reduces use of our resources and minimises waste. It currently contains several measures that can help tackle litter and littering behaviour (and flytipping). You can follow progress of this Bill.

The Circular Economy Bill includes a provision that would give Scottish Government enabling powers to introduce a charge on single use items. A Single-Use Disposable Cups Charge Advisory Group has been established and meet to input to implementation of a minimum charge.

It also establishes a new penalty regime where the keeper of a vehicle would be liable to a penalty if there is a littering offence from that vehicle.

Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) will mean people pay a deposit of 20p when buying a single-use drinks container and when that container is returned the deposit is received back. The scheme was delayed in 2023 until October 2025, when DRS schemes are planned to launch elsewhere in the UK.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a concept to ensure producers take responsibility of the environmental impact of their products once they have put them on the market. A new scheme is in development which will require producers to pay the full net cost of managing their packaging. The UK Packaging EPR scheme is under consultation and proposes to include all types of packaging used in the distribution and supply of products.

In late 2023 there was a consultation on the proposed ban on the manufacture, supply and sale of wet wipes containing plastic due to their impact on the environment.

Vapes have been identified as a relatively new but noticeable litter type. 44% of people asked in the Scottish Litter Survey 2023 reported they see them littered often, and is the fastest growing observation of all types of litter asked about. To reduce the take-up among young people and reduce the environmental impact plans to ban single use vapes and raise the tobacco age of sale have been announced.

Campaigns and interventions

There are many organisations, and communities, looking to tackle litter and littering behaviour using campaigns and interventions. These can come from local authorities or environmental charities and organisations. There are many examples, some of which can be found in the Resources section including from Keep Scotland Beautiful, Hubbub and greenspace scotland.

In the marine environment KIMO, a network of local governments across eight countries, operate the Fishing for Litter project whereby fishing boats are given big bags to collect the plastics, ghost gear and other debris that gathers in their nets during normal fishing activities.

Community action

Communities and individuals are already taking action to reduce litter and littering behaviour. You can read more about how to take action yourself in the Interventions, Litter pick, Data collection and Engage in policy pages.

Further reading

The Community Litter Hub is delivered in partnership with: