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Scottish litter increases

The packaging industry is calling for fresh approaches to tackling litter after a survey showed an increase in the problem in Scotland despite a new national strategy to combat it.

Incpen, the education and campaigning group across the packaging supply chain, commissioned Keep Scotland Beautiful to survey 120 sites in Edinburgh, Falkirk, Renfrewshire and Inverness in October 2016. It reported a 1% increase in litter against two years earlier.

Cigarette butts and gum made up the bulk of the total litter count while the top five kinds of larger pieces of litter were paper (9%), sweet wrappers (6%), soft drink cans (6%), plastic soft drink bottles (6%) and cigarette packets (4%).

Carrier bag litter, representing under half a percent of the total litter count, was up 38% during the same period, despite the introduction of the carrier bag charge in Scotland two years ago.

Incpen says the study suggests that charges do not change the behaviour of people who leave litter.

Jane Bickerstaffe, chief executive, said: “Two years on from the introduction of the carrier bag charge in Scotland, and numerous campaigns to tackle litter, the problem is as bad as ever. This charge is not reducing the amount people litter.”

She said the study suggested that charges and deposits on items such as disposable coffee cups and drinks bottles would not make a difference.

“Unlike the bag charge, which is avoidable if you take your own bag, imposing new charges would simply place additional financial strain on hard working families.

“We have to look at fresh approaches to cleaning up our towns and countryside. There are many good local campaigns and initiatives but what’s needed is a long term national programme that makes it socially unacceptable to litter anything.

”Incpen recommends that governments look at how we change the behaviour of litterers, so they are proud of their environment and put all rubbish in a bin or take it home.”

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