Broad approach is needed to tackle litter in Scotland, INCPEN says

The Scottish Government needs to take a broad approach when tackling the problem of litter rather than a piecemeal one, according to the Industry Council for research on Packaging & the Environment (INCPEN).

Research commissioned by INCPEN and conducted by Keep Scotland Beautiful, called ‘Composition of litter in Scotland’, shows that focusing just on particular items in litter is not adequate.

The findings from the new research by INCPEN have been published ahead of a new Scottish litter strategy which is due to be unveiled in the next few months.

In its study INCPEN states that a programme should be put in place to target everything from cigarette ends (39.4%) and chewing gum (45.1%) – the two most frequently littered items, to drinks containers (6.4%), food packaging (4.6%), lottery slips (0.1%) and rubber bands (0.3%).

The study said litter has to be measured by number of items and also, ideally, an assessment of its visual impact as well as how easy it is to clear up.

Since 1993, Keep Britain Tidy has carried out a survey of litter for INCPEN as an adjunct to its surveys for Defra.

Its work for Defra records types of litter in a selection of 50m by 2m sites chosen to be representative of the whole of the UK. The surveys for INCPEN counted the number of littered items in a sub-set of the sites, again chosen to be representative.

Surveys were carried out again in 1996, 2004 and 2008. Since devolution in 1999 Scottish sites have not been included. A 2014 survey of England and Wales is being carried out by Keep Britain Tidy.

Keep Scotland Beautiful uses the same methodology as Keep Britain Tidy for its presence/absence surveys and has used the same method for its recent litter count.

Commenting about the research, INCPEN director Jane Bickerstaffe said: “We’re very supportive of Scotland’s proposed comprehensive approach to tackling all types of litter. We believe good data is vital to underpin that strategy, not only to provide a benchmark against which achievements can be measured but also so that targeted measures can be devised. That’s why we commissioned this survey.”

Liz Gyekye

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