Community action to prevent litter and flytipping

Community action is one intervention that recognises the value of empowered communities in raising awareness about litter and flytipping through litter prevention improving local environmental quality. 

Scotland’s national litter strategy, ‘Towards a Litter-free Scotland’ is focused on the prevention of litter and flytipping and aims to encourage personal responsibility, thereby reducing the need for expensive clean-up and enforcement.

Clean ups are the most widespread of community efforts to tackle litter. Community clean ups bring people together to tackle litter and other environmental issues within their own neighbourhoods – something that previous Zero Waste Scotland research has indicated is of particular concern.  Whilst they have many positive outcomes, there is growing recognition of the need for such community interventions to put a firmer emphasis on tackling the problem at source by preventing litter being dropped in the first place.

To investigate the potential for community-led litter prevention, Zero Waste Scotland commissioned Eunomia Research & Consulting to research ways in which such community level activities can best be developed and supported for maximum preventative impact.

The approaches researched are believed, based on practitioner experience, to have the most potential to prevent littering. These have been grouped into five ‘options’ as a way of presenting the findings of the research and discussing future considerations for community level litter prevention.

The options are not discrete entities but can be combined or used in succession. These, in no particular order, are:

  • Litter Pick Plus to support clean ups which aim to maximise the litter prevention impacts
  • Community campaigns to raise awareness of local litter and encourage behaviour change
  • Monitoring and citizen science to involve communities in carrying out data collection and using a range of monitoring techniques to inform interventions
  • Incentives to motivate local communities, such as access to social activities or opportunities to learn new skills
  • Wider community approaches, including:
  • Community green space and street improvements - re-purposing sites for community use as green spaces
  • Wider community building - to develop a sense of civic pride leading to litter prevention effects

Practical applications

Zero Waste Scotland are funding work to develop these approaches further with a range of community organisations. Learnings from the projects will be used to inform the development of resources to help communities design and deliver future litter prevention projects, allowing them to take effective action at a local level.

Zero Waste Scotland also funds Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Clean Up Scotland Campaign. As part of this KSB have produced a ‘Litter Pick Plus toolkit’ which takes forward some of the recommendations of the Community Options Paper. 

Zero Waste Scotland has also developed a communications toolkit which provides a range of targeted messaging and materials, free of charge, for use in a range of settings, including at neighbourhood level. 

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