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What is the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse?

The code seeks to ensure that land is maintained to acceptable standards.

The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse is issued under Section 89 (7) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990). 

It provides guidance on fulfilling the duties placed on Duty Bodies and Statutory Undertakers under Section 89 (1) and (2) of the EPA 1990:

The duties

  • Duty 1 - Section 89 (1): To ensure that their land (or land for which they are responsible) is, so far as is practicable, kept clear of litter and refuse.
  • Duty 2 - Section 89 (2): In respect of all other publicly maintainable roads, to ensure that the road is, so far as is practicable, kept clean. (Local Authorities and Scottish Ministers)

The code sets out standards that should be used as a guide to ensure that land is maintained to an acceptable standard to meet the duty. This includes zoning of land, maximum time to restore land and grades of cleanliness. It also advises on who is responsible for meeting the duty and relevant land.

The code is admissible in evidence if a body is taken to court by an aggrieved person under section 91 of the EPA 1990 for neglecting these duties. 

The current code (2006) is presently being reviewed in line with recommendations of the national litter strategy – Towards a litter-free Scotland.

What materials are in scope?


Litter is generally considered to be 'waste in the wrong place' where individual items, or a number of individual items, are thrown down, dropped or deposited in a public place by any person.

Material considered as litter is wide ranging, including but not limited to: food packaging, drink containers, smoking related materials including cigarette ends, chewing gum, food items, paper, plastic bags.


Refuse should be regarded as waste material or in general terms rubbish, including household and commercial waste, flytipped waste and dog faeces[1]. Refuse generally tends to be larger items than those categorised as litter.


[1] The Litter (Animal Droppings) Order 1991 defines dog faeces as refuse, made under S86(14)&(15). No further orders have been made with regards to Animal Droppings


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