New poll shows public appetite for action on litter

An online poll of over 1,000 people indicates that 44% of Scots believe that a major education and awareness drive is the best way to tackle our litter problem, with 33% opting for stronger enforcement action as the most effective solution. Only 10% opted for investing more in clearing it up. 

24 Sep 13

The poll, published today by Zero Waste Scotland, comes ahead of the closing date for two major consultations on litter by Scottish Government on Friday (27 September).

The poll shows a marked difference between young people and those over 26 when asked how to persuade people to stop littering. While 40% of over 26s opted for ‘a major education and awareness drive’ as their top choice, only 15% of young people chose that.

Instead, under 26s opted for tougher enforcement action and higher fines. Almost half (48%) said that the most effective way of persuading people was to either increase the number of people who can issue fines (24%) or increase the fixed  penalties themselves (24%).  One in four (25%) young people say that more litter bins and recycling facilities would be the most effective.

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland said: ”We’re pleased to see so many people of all ages taking part in our online poll to give us an  indicator of what people feel about litter and the impact it has on our communities.

“The poll shows that many people understand the wider environmental implications of litter and they appreciate the very negative effects on Scotland’s economy. We’d encourage everyone who wants to have their say to take part in the Scottish Government’s consultation on a national strategy for tackling litter and flytipping.”

Commenting on the findings, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“Litter is a blight on Scotland’s communities and coastlines, tarnishing our beautiful landscapes and harming our wildlife and natural assets. With more than 250 million items of litter and over 60,000 fly tipping incidents a year, we must all do more to tackle this problem and Scotland’s throwaway culture.

“It is clear from this poll that litter there is support for measures to combat this issue and make recycling easier and common practice. If everyone gets involved we can create a country where littering is no longer acceptable and I encourage people to make their point before our consultations close on Friday.”

For almost 4 in 10 Scots (38%) the risk to wildlife and the environment was the worst thing about litter.  29% believe its unsightly nature was the top bugbear, with many pointing to the negative impact on tourism and pride in the local environment.

Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive at Young Scot, said: “It was obvious to us when supporting this poll that it’s an issue that young people are very passionate about and want to make a difference to. It’s therefore vital that we give young people the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions on how we can tackle Scotland’s litter problem.

“We look forward to continuing to work with all partners to ensuring that the ideas and suggestions that young people have put forward are factored in to the design of strategy.”

Suzanne Roberts, Campaign Co-ordinator at the Clean Up Scotland Campaign, run by the independent charity Keep Scotland Beautiful said:“Scotland’s litter problem is our nation’s secret disgrace, and it is no surprise that so many people took part in this online survey to show their support for action to address it.

“As our Clean Up Scotland Campaign is demonstrating, the nation wants action, and is willing to play its part in a national coalition to change littering behaviour and clear the mess that others have left behind.”

Research by Zero Waste Scotland, published in July, showed that 250 million items of litter are cleared up each year, costing £53 million. It costs Scotland a further £25 million in its effect on a range of related issues including crime, health and reduced property values.

Further Details

Sarah McDaid: 0131 556 0770 / 07780 644 673

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