While the debate about litter south of the Border continues to focus bone-head calls for a ban on packaging, the Scots are taking a more enlightened view of things by focusing on the actual cause of litter by urging Scots to do the right thing and use the bin.
A staggering 250 million bits of visible litter are dropped in Scotland each year, damaging the environment and posing a risk to public health – with littering and flytipping costing at least £53 million of public money to tackle.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has unveiled the Scottish Government strategy, Towards a Litter-free Scotland, which aims to reduce litter and flytipped waste and increase recycling by encouraging us all to take personal responsibility.
The strategy is backed by actions to improve information, infrastructure and enforcement. Early action and action already being taken by the Scottish Government, with resource efficiency partner Zero Waste Scotland, includes:
- A new Scottish Government marketing campaign, which starts today, highlighting littering as unacceptable behaviour
- The recent increase in fixed penalties for littering and flytipping from £50 to £80 and £200 respectively
- Introducing a 5p charge for single-use bags in Scotland from October 2014
- New enforcement powers for the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, SEPA and other public bodies from April 1, 2015
- Funding over two years for Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Clean up Scotland campaign
- Pilot incentive schemes to reward communities for voluntary clean-ups in local black spots
- A call for designers, industry and students and academics to come forward with ideas to improve the design of products and packaging
- Trialling new, tailored public information tactics aimed at motivating people to dispose of waste properly.
Mr Lochhead said: “Scotland is a beautiful country and we all have to play our part and take personal responsibility to keep it that way. Yet 250 million bits of visible litter are dropped each year, with 50 tonnes of litter cleared up from the sides of Scotland’s motorways each month alone.
“One in five adults admit to littering and we need this to change. Instead of throwing rubbish away - everything from sweetie wrappers to mattresses - I urge everyone to do the right thing and dispose of waste properly.
“Littering and flytipping harm public health and the environment, and cost Scotland at least £53 million each year to tackle – public money that could be better spent on other things. Littering is literally throwing money away, especially when you consider that discarded plastic bottles, aluminium cans and other materials would have been worth an estimated £1.2 million when recycled.
“Working towards a litter-free Scotland will benefit individuals and society, our environment and the economy. This strategy sets out how the Scottish Government is providing leadership on waste prevention, working with our partners to reduce litter and increase recycling. I look forward to continued co-operation and collaboration as we implement this, and the forthcoming marine litter strategy.
Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Zero Waste Scotland will be driving the delivery of the new litter strategy and I look forward to convening action with partners and stakeholders to tackle the issue head on. Litter has no place in a zero waste society and this strategy sets out a clear vision to bring new ideas and a fresh approach to an issue which has plagued Scotland’s communities for too long. By reducing litter and fly-tipping and increasing recycling in public places, we can protect Scotland’s natural beauty and harness the value of waste as a re-usable resource.”
There is a lot the English, Welsh and Northern Irish can learn from this initiative.