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Tackling litter and waste

The issue:
There is a litter emergency
Our ambition:
Scotland is litter free and has a circular economy
Opportunity:
Help us clean up Scotland
Goal 4
Goal 6
Goal 11
Goal 12
Goal 14
Goal 15
Goal 17

Helping Scotland become litter free


We declared a litter emergency in 2022 based on the evidence we collected from our surveys and audits and from public perceptions.  Our two latest reports How clean are our streets? and the Scottish Litter Survey, published in November 2023, continue to evidence the challenge.  


Our work supports our ambition for Scotland to have a circular economy and be litter free.


We supported the development of the Scottish Government Marine Litter Strategy and Litter and Flytipping Strategy for Scotland and are committed to delivering action and inspiring behaviour change through a number of activities including our Upstream Battle campaign and our support of delivering key sections of the 2023/24 NLFS Action Plan.

Our combined impact

We continue to work closely with you to tackle litter and waste to keep our country and neighbourhoods clean, green and sustainable.

  • 22 Upstream Battle Anchor Groups trained and supported
  • 100+ Community Clean Up Hubs
  • More than 100,000 pieces of litter binned through our LitterLotto partnership

Our work with you to tackle litter and waste

We are continuing to find new ways to engage and inspire Scotland’s people and to work collaboratively to reverse the data trends and tackle the behaviours driving the litter crisis.

Looking forward there are significant policy and regulation measures being brought forward which could influence and drive behaviour change to reduce the number and type of items littered.  These include the introduction of a charge for single-use coffee cups, a Deposit Return Scheme (planned for 2027) and Extended Producer Responsibility regulations which have the potential to make producers responsible for single-use packaging that ends up as litter on the ground.    Our manifesto calls for action on these.

We understand the indicators of local environmental quality, because for more than two decades, in partnership with Scotland’s local authorities, we have carried out audits using the Local Environmental Audit and Management System (LEAMS). The data is used to influence national and local policy, to target local cleansing activity and provides the evidence as interventions and campaigns are designed and evaluated.

Our Clean Up Scotland framework supports local authorities and communities in particular to take action on litter through clean ups, citizen science activity or by promoting campaign messages. Our flagship annual Spring Clean challenge sees tens of thousands of people across the country roll up their sleeves to remove litter from their neighbourhoods. While our award-winning Upstream Battle® campaign tackles litter’s journey from source to sea.

In 2022 we launched an innovative partnership with behaviour change app LitterLotto, offering financial rewards for binning litter, while our Litter League encourages young people to compete for clean-up glory.

We offer training to enforcement officers across Scotland, and have developed Litterate training suitable for communities and individuals to help people understand the challenges and identify appropriate solutions.

Tackling litter will lead to important, positive impacts on efforts to combat climate change and halt biodiversity loss.

We are committed to pushing forward action in line with the 2023/24 Action Plan which supports the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy and we'd urge you to find our more about this and how you can get involved on our strategy web pages.

If you want to join us to tackle the litter emergency, for our environment, our wildlife, our health and our wellbeing, do reach out to us.

Working with you to inspire action

We provide support to communities, local authorities and businesses who want to take action to reverse the litter emergency.

Find out more about our ongoing activities to tackle litter across Scotland and get involved.  You can play your part by organising a spring clean, finding out about our Litterate training, or even turn trash in to cash by taking part in LitterLotto.

Read our recent reports

You can access our most recent local environmental quality and litter reports and data via the links below, but we also publish a range of reports summarising our campaigns, activities and findings over the years. These can be found on our reports and publications pages. Do get in touch if you would like to find out more. 

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