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  • Litter is waste in the wrong place. It can be any man-made material or item associated with food. It includes banana skins, apple cores, food and drink packaging, cigarette butts and chewing gum.


  • Flytipping is also waste in the wrong place – from a bin bag of household waste to large quantities of domestic, commercial or construction waste.

items of litter

  • Almost 250 million visible items are littered each year and there are at least 61,000 incidents of flytipping.

litter problems

  • Litter ruins the look of our environment, kills wildlife, cause fires and damages cars. Discarded food such as apple cores and banana skins attracts rats, mice, gulls and pigeons.

litter can affect...

  • Litter can affect our health and local environment - that’s why people risk an £80 penalty for littering or £200 for flytipping.

Litter and flytipping

Tackling Scotland’s Litter Problem

Scotland is a beautiful country and we all have a responsibility to keep it clean and litter-free.

The Scottish Government recognises that the effects of litter and flytipping are a risk to public health and the Towards A Litter-Free Scotland: A Strategic Approach To Higher Quality Local Environmentsenvironment. Tackling these problems costs at least £53 million each year – public money that could be better spent on other things.

Littered items such as plastic bottles and aluminium cans could also be worth £1.2 million when recycled. Designing waste out of products and services, and recycling materials that might otherwise become litter and flytipping, protects natural resources and helps to reduce harmful greenhouse gases.

The Scottish Government is committed to showing leadership on tackling litter and flytipping. The national litter strategy, ‘Towards a Litter-free Scotland’, sets out how Scotland can significantly reduce litter and flytipping and support cleaner, safer communities.

Reporting problems

If you see a litter or flytipping problem please let the land owner or manager know.  For more information on how to report litter and flytipping please contact your local authority.

You can also report flytipping problems 24-hours a day through the Dumb Dumpers website and helpline: 0845 2 30 40 90.

Who has responsibility for what? 

We should all do the right thing with our litter.  There’s no excuse, bin your waste or take it home if a bin is unavailable.  For information on how to correctly dispose of larger amounts of waste, please visit the Dumb Dumpers website.

For advice on how to prevent blocked drains and sewers by correctly disposing of cooking fats, oils and grease - as well as bathroom items such as cotton buds, nappies and baby wipes – see the Scottish Water Website.

Litter on land  

The responsibility for clearing litter from Scotland's streets and public areas lies with local authorities and statutory undertakers such as Network Rail, Scottish Canals, and also schools, colleges and universities. This is a duty given to them by the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Practical advice on duty fulfilment is contained within the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (COPLAR) 2018.  COPLAR 2018 was laid in Parliament on 17 May and is subject to a 40-day Parliamentary process. It will replace COPLAR 2006 which was reviewed and updated to increase its focus on prevention. There is also the findings of a short consultation on COPLAR, held in 2017.

As independent bodies, local authorities and the other duty holders are free to determine how best to fulfil their duty/ies, provided they have regard to COPLAR.  

Litter on roads

Transport Scotland, through its Operating Companies, is responsible for clearance of litter on motorways and special roads, while local authorities are responsible for keeping local roads and most trunk roads clear of litter.

Litter in the marine environment

Marine Scotland’s Scottish Marine Litter Strategy aims to address litter affecting marine and coastal environments.

Zero Waste Scotland

As the Scottish Government’s resource efficiency delivery partner,  tackling litter and flytipping is a key priority for Zero Waste Scotland. It works with land owners and managers, local authorities, business, charities - including Keep Scotland Beautiful - voluntary organisations, community groups and the resource management sector.

Want to know more?

Please visit Cleaner Scotland