Scotland's Litter Summit

Developing a collaborative approach to tackling litter and reversing the decline in our local environments

The Scottish Litter Summit was held in March 2021 and organised by Keep Scotland Beautiful, the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland.

It brought together key stakeholders from national and local government, the public sector and the third sector for an open and honest discussion around the challenges of litter and to reaffirm commitment to reversing the decline in local environmental quality. The summit also looked at ways stakeholders can best work together to improve the condition of our communities and avert a litter emergency.

The mood of the summit was supportive, collaborative and encouraging, and the stakeholders commended much of the excellent work done to date. Many of the discussion points raised echoed and reaffirmed the key themes from the National Litter Strategy Review 2019.  Participants also reflected on their experience over the last 12 months and the impact of the pandemic.

The summit recognised that the extreme experiences of the last year had demonstrated how flexible, responsive and responsible communities could be on a voluntarily basis if given clear explanations and guidance, but that enforcement was still an important part of achieving behaviour change.

A joint reflection made by Scottish Government, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Zero Waste Scotland, following the summit, highlighted the need to recognise that good communication is a part of behaviour change and should be used, along with support, service delivery, enforcement and other tools, as part of the continuum of interventions.

The Scottish Government highlighted that it recognised the need to treat flytipping and litter as separate but interrelated subjects. It was confirmed that the review of the National Litter Strategy would be published and that a process and timeline for defining a new strategy would ensure that the new ‘National Litter and Flytipping Strategy’ would be published in 2022, subject to the outcome of the elections.

It was noted that there was a need to ensure ongoing collaboration with colleagues working on other relevant policy areas such as extended producer responsibility, deposit return scheme and the single use plastics directive.

The Scottish Government encouraged all participants to continue to be engaged and reaffirmed their commitment to developing an agile, coordinated strategy with measurable outcomes and accountability at its heart.

The summit concluded with a firm commitment from all present to continue to work together to effectively address the litter problem in Scotland.

Key themes

  • Collaborative action: Strategic direction is needed to make further progress on the issues associated with litter and fly tipping, and truly shared ownership of the new strategy will be key to encouraging collaborative action and avoiding duplication of effort.
  • Aligning strategies: The marine and terrestrial litter strategies need to be closely aligned to ensure the systemic nature of the issue is addressed in a holistic way.
  • The pandemic effect: The landscape, with regards to many societal issues, has undoubtedly changed due to the pandemic and a new litter strategy should engage with these new challenges and make the most of the opportunities presented by the exceptional societal engagement which has been evidenced across the country.
  • Established success: Participants highlighted the need to build on established successes. A lot has already been achieved and whilst lessons should be learnt from both what has worked and what has not, the baseline is high and there is a comprehensive body of work to draw on as the new strategy is developed.
  • Education: As ever education that goes beyond school-based activity, and good, clear communications are at the heart of many successful behaviour change activities.
  • Data: There is a significant need to collect and share data in a way that enables decision making, allocation of resources and supports communities and volunteers. In particular, participants stressed the need to find ways to measure the impact of prevention work.



Summer Clean 2021

We coordinated a Summer Clean from May 28 - June 20 as part of our Clean Up Scotland campaign.

Find out more about how people helped us Clean Up Scotland.  

Keep Updated

Get our news delivered straight to your inbox
Your personal information and right to privacy is important to us. It is not our practice to sell, rent or otherwise to disclose your personal information to others. Read our Privacy Notice

Keep Connected

We support the