Education is the ‘best way to tackle litter’


Almost half of Scottish people believe that ‘education and awareness’ is the ‘best’ way to tackle litter, a new opinion poll has found.

The poll, first launched in August by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), asked 1,000 people what they thought the ‘most effective’ solutions to fighting litter were. It follows on from a recent Litter Week of Action aimed at highlighting the problem of litter in Scotland, and comes just days before the closing date for the Scottish Government’s consultation on implementing a national litter strategy

According to the results – published on Tuesday (24 September) ­– 44 per cent of Scots believe that ‘a major education and awareness drive’ is the best way to tackle litter. Other suggestions for cracking down on litter were ‘stronger enforcement action’ (33 per cent) and ‘investing more in clearing it up’ (10 per cent).

The poll shows a marked difference in opinion between young people and those over the age of 26 however, with the latter group being more likely to cite ‘education and awareness’ as the best driver for cleaning up the streets. Indeed, 40 per cent of those over 26 opted for this option, while only 15 per cent of younger people did. Instead, almost half (48 per cent) of those under the age of 26 said that increasing enforcement action was the most effective method. Aside from enforcement, 'increasing the number of litter bins and recycling facilities' on the street was also popular with young people, with 25 per cent saying that this would be the most effective solution.

When asked about what the worst impacts of litter are, almost 4 in 10 Scots (38 per cent) pointed to the effects litter has on wildlife and the environment. Other frequently cited impacts included the ‘unsightly’ nature of waste (29 per cent), and 'impacts' to tourism and community pride.

Speaking of the results, 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.”

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead added: “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.”

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.

Read more about Scotland’s work on tackling litter.