For almost 20 years our team of trained assessors have carried out annual surveys at a random selection of sites across Scotland. They record the presence of litter, dog fouling, graffiti and other indicators of local environmental quality.
The evidence shows a worrying trend of decline, specifically in urban areas, which matches with the public perception of litter in Scotland.
We’ve been working for decades to tackle the many complex behaviours that drive these trends and make it easy for people to do the right thing. We know that there isn’t a quick, or cheap, fix. Without the passion and commitment of those we work with things could be far worse. Only by working together can we make our communities the places we want them to be.
Everyone has an opinion on litter - about why people litter and what needs to be done to tackle the behaviours that lead to litter. Many of those we work with in communities across Scotland drive improvements by liaising with local authorities, road operators and land-owners; others advocate community action with litter picks and litter surveys, and some take to social media to share messages encouraging everyone to do the right thing and bin their litter or take it home.
Now we all have a chance to make our voices heard on how Scotland should tackle the looming litter emergency.
This month the Scottish Government launched a consultation on a new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy for Scotland. We are supporting this process alongside Zero Waste Scotland and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
If you hate litter, if you are one of the inspiring people who regularly carry out community litter picks, if you have some innovative ideas on what we as a nation need to do to tackle the looming litter emergency now is the time to have #YourSayOnLitter.
The consultation is open until the end of March and we will be working with communities and other stakeholders to ensure as many responses as possible are submitted.
Now is the time to all come together and ensure that our views are heard. We have always said that litter needs to be tackled collectively and in collaboration with others. It won’t be changed by a strategy alone – but it can be solved if all those who respond to this consultation opportunity help to shape it, buy into it and deliver the recommendations.
Our latest research positively highlighted a clear appetite from those surveyed for greater action to tackle and prevent litter in Scotland, with particular support for improving waste disposal facilities and educational campaigns.
It is clear people feel strongly about litter and want more done to tackle it which is why I am urging people, from Community Councils to Development Trusts, from Local Chambers of Commerce to High Street traders groups to all make their voices heard and contribute positively to the Scottish Government consultation.
Litter should be one of the easiest environmental problems to solve – everyone is able to bin their litter or take it home. I truly feel that together we can make a difference. Together we can stop the looming litter emergency. Together we can turn anger into action.
Litter hasn’t stopped. But neither will we.
Barry Fisher, CEO, Keep Scotland Beautiful