Login/Register ZWS
Main content

What is CoPLAR?

The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (CoPLAR) is a statutory guidance document.

Issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, CoPLAR provides statutory guidance to organisations with a duty to fulfil the legal requirements of section 89, (1) and (2) of the Act. Duty holders are required to:

  1. keep their land clear of litter and refuse; and
  2. keep their roads clean.


  • Explains what the duties are, who is responsible, what types of land are in scope and how to zone land and roads based on the likelihood of issues arising;
  • Is clear that Grade A is the standard for both duties, categorises the scale of issue using grades and provides maximum response times for restoring land and roads to Grade A;
  • Promotes a preventative approach towards litter and refuse, and the design of services to support this;
  • Highlights the requirement to keep roads free from detritus,  which if not managed can have wider impacts such as flooding or obscuring road surfaces;
  • Is admissible as evidence in court proceedings if a duty holder is taken to court for dereliction of its duties.

Duty holders must have regard to CoPLAR, be able to evidence how they are fulfilling their duty as far as practicable and, where this is not possible, they need to justify why not. Ultimately, it is for courts to decide whether or not it was impracticable for a duty holder to discharge its duty.

A clear focus on prevention

Scotland’s litter and flytipping problem costs an estimated £1m every week – it is avoidable with the right approach, and money could be better spent on other services. CoPLAR supports the long term goal to change public attitudes and behaviour towards littering and flytipping and combined with better partnership working, it will help to avoid litter and flytipping spoiling our land and marine environments.

The Christie Commission (the Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services) established that prevention in public services is more efficient than treatment. So CoPLAR puts prevention and cleansing on an equal footing.

By addressing the causes of littering and flytipping, prevention provides greater flexibility for duty holders to change their approach to managing the issue, achieve cleaner land for longer, and reduce the reliance on expensive clean-up operations.

Litter Knowledge Network

Best practice case studies, advice and support can be found in the Litter Knowledge Network and we are always keen to hear what others are doing. If you have an example of a prevention initiative that you would like to share with others please get in touch.

Close Search

Search form