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Scottish Litter Summit

17 March 2021

Key stakeholders commit to reset action to tackle looming litter emergency

On Wednesday 17 March 2021, in partnership with the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland, we hosted a summit to reinvigorate a collaborative approach to tackling the nation’s looming litter emergency and unacceptable levels of dog fouling and graffiti.

The scale of the challenge Scotland faces was outlined in our report Time for a new approach to tackling litter published at the end of last year. In it we called for eight urgent actions and urged key stakeholders to join together to reverse the decline in local environmental quality standards.

The Scottish Litter Summit brought together a cross sector of organisations - all with a shared commitment and appetite to address the complex interlinking problems that have resulted in Scotland seeing increasing litter levels in recent years. 

Providing an opportunity to reflect on the current situation, the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown, and the review of the litter strategy summit has reset the collective ambition to tackle litter and identified some immediate priorities and actions including:

  • A reaffirmation of a shared commitment to collaborate across sectors; and
  • To take forward the findings of the review of the National Litter Strategy and develop a new strategic framework and a realistic timeline for delivery.


Environment and Climate Change Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, said:

“Littering is a blight on our landscape and we have been clear that there is no excuse for this anti-social behaviour.

“There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges and attention related to the impact that litter and flytipping have on local environmental quality.  I would like to extend my thanks to our partners and local communities who have worked hard to meet these challenges.

“Today’s summit has given us the chance to reaffirm our commitment to not only tackling litter, but to kick start concerted efforts to change behaviour for good, to improve local neighbourhoods and make a positive contribution to our efforts on climate change and the circular economy.”

Acknowledging that no one organisation can do this on its own, Barry Fisher, CEO of Keep Scotland Beautiful said, “It is easy to talk about litter and other aspects of local environmental quality dismissively, yet for many individuals and communities it is the most obvious environmental issue they face.

“The last year highlighted massive challenges, as people have noticed more litter, and witnessed a trashing of some of our iconic beauty spots.  But it is worth noting that during that time we have also seen some excellent examples of partnership working, from the Scotland is Stunning Campaign, to the establishment of community litter picking hubs, to national collaboration on messaging across the country.

“Now it is time to step up to the challenge and really make an impact.  We need you to join us on our collective mission to make all of Scotland beautiful again.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Scotland’s littering issues have been brought into sharp focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. As people spend more time in their local communities and leisure spaces, they can see how much litter there is, and the corrosive effect it has on the environment. The pandemic has also introduced new forms of littering, with discarded PPE now a common sight. Litter is simply waste in the wrong place - there is just no need for it.

“Zero Waste Scotland is committed to partnership working to find solutions to this problem. Recent examples include the Scotland is Stunning campaign and promoting reusable face coverings, and, with travel restrictions likely to ease later this year, we must build on this work remove the blight of litter from our landscapes.”

The Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland and Keep Scotland Beautiful, are committed to continuing efforts to support communities, local authorities, businesses, and national agencies to reverse the decline in environmental quality across Scotland – from rural to urban settings – but everyone needs to step up to the challenge. 

The time to act is now. 

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