David Barnes, Programme Manager for Litter and Flytipping, Zero Waste Scotland talks about Scotland’s prevention push on litter and flytipping.
Over a million pounds of public money is spent dealing with litter and flytipping every week in Scotland. When we consider that the country sees more than 60,000 incidents of flytipping a year, that’s a lot of money spent on needless clean-up that could be available for local authorities to spend on other priority issues.
Not only is litter and flytipping unsightly and damaging to the environment, there are wider, indirect impacts – on things like house prices and health and wellbeing. These cost another £25 million and significantly affect quality of life. Meanwhile the percentage of Scots who say litter is a problem where they live has stagnated at around 28% in recent years¹, demonstrating an impetus for action that really cracks these issues and shows visible improvement in Scotland’s communities.
That’s why Zero Waste Scotland has taken inspiration from projects across the globe to achieve a national first – a suite of materials specifically targeted at preventing litter and flytipping that will help protect Scotland’s natural resources, and make best use of public money.
Building upon the focus on prevention at the core of the Scottish Government’s National Litter Strategy, the Litter Knowledge Network represents the first time such a comprehensive suite of information has been made available together. Available for free via the Zero Waste Scotland website, it comprises consistent messaging and tried and tested approaches to prevention accessible for free to anyone committed to turning the tables on litter and flytipping in Scotland for good.
As well as guides and tips on how best to halt specific littering behaviour, the Litter Knowledge Network incorporates guidance on preventing all kinds of litter – from chewing gum to largescale flytipping. It also contains factual information about the extent of the problem in Scotland that can be incorporated into campaigns – plus materials to help plan and deliver effective litter-busting activities such as guidelines on events, social media and working with local schools.
This suite of new good practice resources is also a big step forward for Scotland in terms of its potential to deliver real, joined-up change. It’s a chance for local authorities, community groups and environmental organisations across the country to help make Scotland an exemplar on litter and flytipping, making their own communities a better place in which to live and work in the process.
At community-level, groups of people across Scotland are already arming themselves in the fight against litter and flytipping where they live, work and play. Zero Waste Scotland is working with Scotland’s big employers, brands, retailers and social hubs to get them creating Litter Prevention Action Plans specific to their surroundings. With each containing achievable actions to prevent litter and flytipping at local level, the Plans are intended to co-ordinate action, demonstrate commitment and amplify impacts from activities while also informing a network of Community Litter Prevention Action Plans across the country. Together with universal access to world-leading expert materials in the Litter Knowledge Network, the result will be a targeted affront on litter and flytipping that has been designed and influenced by Scotland’s people.
This bottom-up action to combat the blight on our communities will be supported by top-down action at Scottish Government level. In the coming months the Scottish Government will lay new statutory litter guidance in Parliament attaching greater priority to preventing litter from arising in the first place, and aiming to reduce resources being spent on cleaning up other people’s mess.
The updated guidance will broaden the measures that councils and others can take to keep land clear of litter and refuse. It will provide the necessary scope for councils to decide what’s most effective for their local area, using their own knowledge and expertise to maximise effectiveness where it matters to their residents – on the ground.
There are benefits at every level; but what’s really key to ensure everyone reaps the rewards is to make sure everyone has the chance to get involved. That’s why we at Zero Waste Scotland are working hard behind the scenes to engage with organisations big and small to make sure Scotland’s new approach to litter is comprehensive.
If you’d like to find out more about being part of the bigger picture on litter, email Zero Waste Scotland.