Scotland To Publish New Statutory Litter Guidance

Cllr Lesley Hinds and Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham beside 'smart bin'
Cllr Lesley Hinds and Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham beside ‘smart bin’

The Scottish Government will introduce new statutory litter guidance that will aim to encourage duty holders to attach greater priority to preventing litter occurring in the first place, aiming to reduce resources being spent on its clean up.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham signalled her commitment to revising the Code of Practice for Litter and Refuse (COPLAR) while visiting Edinburgh City Council’s innovative “smart bin” scheme.

The pilot, which has secured funding to be rolled out further, uses smart technology to ensure collection crews always empty bins before they reach capacity and is part of efforts to minimise the amount of litter dropped in the capital.

“Prevention has been a key principle behind the reshaping of many council services for a number of years now, exactly because it is more cost effective, and measures that help councils to adopt more cost-effective approaches are always welcome.”

The technology works by sending data via a mobile network to staff who can then predict which bins are almost full. The data gathered will also help to identify any improvements required in the collection of bins and routes, including prioritising collections at busier spots as some bins may not need to be emptied as often as others.  Another feature of the technology is a heat sensor – if there has been a fire it’s immediately detected.

She said: “Public bodies across Scotland spend a huge amount of money on tackling litter and flytipping – funds which could be better spent on other services. The aim of our national litter strategy Towards a Litter-free Scotland is to drive a fundamental change in how councils and others deal with the litter problem.

It’s about refocusing efforts on stopping littering behaviour in the first place, because prevention is always better than cure.

“We will place updated guidance before the Scottish Parliament in the coming months, which will broaden the measures that councils and others can take to reduce litter and improve local environmental quality.

“I welcome the leadership being shown by councils like Edinburgh in introducing innovative measures like smart bins which help prevent litter from overflowing.  Sharing evidence of what works between councils and others involved in reducing litter will be key to achieving our litter prevention aims.”

The updated Code of Practice for Litter and Refuse will provide practical guidance, primarily for public bodies, regarding two Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990 duties:

  • Duty 1: to keep land and roads clear of litter and refuse
  • Duty 2: to keep roads clean

Cllr Stephen Hagan, COSLA Development, Economy and Sustainability Spokesperson said: “We are always keen to develop new and innovative ways to tackle problems such as littering. I am keen to find out how the roll-out of smart bins works for Edinburgh, and what we can learn from that for other areas of the country.

“The new guidance has been developed in partnership. Prevention has been a key principle behind the reshaping of many council services for a number of years now, exactly because it is more cost effective, and measures that help councils to adopt more cost-effective approaches are always welcome.”

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