LITTER louts drop enough rubbish at the side of Scotland’s railways and roads every year to fill 112 skips – or two Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Figures released through Freedom of Information show 1,800 tonnes of refuse are collected each year, ranging from old furniture, washing machines and televisions, to food packaging, paper and cans.
The cost of the clean-up operation is about £60,000 a month.
Last month, almost 4,000 hours were spent clearing litter from motorways in Glasgow and surrounding area.
Transport minister Keith Brown urged people to dispose of their rubbish responsibly. He said: “Scotland is a wonderful country and its natural beauty is a key factor in attracting tourists.
“Next year, the eyes of the world will be on us through events such as Homecoming 2014, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup. That is why we need to ensure we present a lasting and positive image that encourages the world to visit Scotland for many years to come.
“Clearing carelessly discarded rubbish is quite simply a needless use of time and money.
“It is not too much to expect people to bag their rubbish and dispose of it responsibly. Our road and rail crews are doing their bit to ensure Scotland is kept tidy; it is only fair all transport users to do the same.”
In March, environment secretary Richard Lochhead said he was consulting on whether increasing the current £50 fixed penalty for littering and fly tipping would be “helpful” in tackling the problem.
He made the announcement after a survey found a quarter of people thought litter was a problem in their community.
Litter-clearing alongside busy roads often requires a lane closure, which results in lengthy delays to drivers and lost time to businesses, while clearing rubbish from railways can result in line restrictions.
David Simpson, Network Rail’s route managing director for Scotland, said: “Our maintenance teams have to spend valuable time removing thousands of tonnes of litter and waste from our infrastructure every year.
“This is a completely avoidable task which uses up time that would be better spent on duties that could further improve the performance of our network and the service we provide to the travelling public.”
Zero Waste Scotland, a programme managed by Waste and Resources Action Programme on behalf of the Scottish Government, pointed out many of the items thrown away could be recycled.
A spokeswoman said: “We know that the everyday problem of litter affects our communities and environment, and this includes our roads and railways.
“As if this wasn’t bad enough, Scotland wastes millions in clearing and cleaning this up and in the lost value of discarded materials that could be recycled.”
She added: “We are working with a number of organisations to address the issue of transport litter, including to encourage people not to litter from vehicles on the road and rail networks.”