Littering Is Never “Acceptable”, Opinion Poll Finds

The results of an online opinion survey show that the majority of respondents believe there are no excuses for littering, despite a recent report finding people in Scotland viewed littering behaviour on a sliding scale of acceptability. 

The study, Public Perceptions and Concerns around Litter, looked at attitudes to how litter should be tackled and will be used by Zero Waste Scotland to develop ideas to prevent littering behaviour. (See CIWM Journal Online story)

The report found most people considered “deliberate” littering a lot worse than “accidental” littering. “Accidental” littering was excused by a perceived lack of bins, full bins, the litter being a small amount or people not paying attention.

Eighty-one percent of respondents to the poll were of the opinion that “littering is littering” and shouldn’t be viewed on a scale of acceptability

People didn’t see themselves as “deliberate” litterers – and are very reluctant to admit to littering.

There were strongly-held assumptions about why the litter had been dropped – this was as important to them as the items themselves. For example, litter seen as “deliberate” or tied to other anti-social behaviour (such as flytipping, or late-night eating and drinking) was heavily criticised.

They expected residential areas to be clean, and expected more litter in city centres (due to fast food and eating on-the-go outlets) and grass verges. Spoiling enjoyment of leisure areas such as parks and beaches also annoyed people.

In response, CIWM Journal Online asked visitors to the site whether they agreed that littering behaviour should been seen on a sliding scale of acceptability.

Eighty-one percent of respondents to the poll were of the opinion that “littering is littering” and shouldn’t be viewed on a scale of acceptability.

Fourteen percent were of the opinion that it should, and that littering was “relative to circumstance, and whether it was intended”.

Five percent of those who responded were of the opinion that it depended on whether there were sufficient bins in the area as to whether littering could ever be acceptable.

CIWM Journal Online’s latest opinion polls is asking if the UK Government should follow the example of the French and implement a supermarket food waste ban to landfill.

To HAVE YOUR SAY visit the homepage.


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