Rapid evidence assessment of littering behaviour and anti-litter policies

Zero Waste Scotland
Start date:
June 2012
September 2012

Littering remains an on-going issue in Scotland, leading to a range of negative impacts and costs.

The Scottish Government is committed to tackling the problem and has asked Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) to develop an evidence base on littering and anti-litter policies, during 2012/3. This programme of work comprises five work packages which will assess the scale of the problem and the impacts, and will identify policy options for tackling the issue. As part of this programme, ZWS commissioned Brook Lyndhurst to undertake a rapid evidence review on littering behaviours and existing policies.

The purpose of the rapid evidence review was to create a robust evidence base from which to conduct the subsequent work packages. The overall work programme will be used as a platform to initiate a national dialogue on how to tackle the problem of littering with a range of stakeholders - for example, Local Authorities and other Duty Bodies, SEPA, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Volunteer and Community litter-picking groups, and producers of tobacco, chewing gum, and fast foods.

Rapid evidence review: research objectives
This research had two primary objectives and one secondary objective. These were to:

     1. Identify, summarise and map existing evidence on littering behaviours, motivations and barriers, and possible opportunities for changing behaviour.

     2. Review evidence to identify existing anti-litter policy interventions and, where possible, review evidence on the impacts of those measures.

     3. Highlight evidence that will be relevant to other work packages within the wider programme of work.

The methodology involved an initial process of scoping, or ‘long-listing’, the available literature as provided by Zero Waste Scotland, the wider steering group, our own library, and wider searches. This helped us to understand the types, quality and distribution of evidence sources on littering behaviour.

From that long-list, documents most relevant to our research aims and of a high quality were chosen for review. The evidence on littering behaviours was used to create a behaviour change framework to help identify the strongest motivations for and barriers to influencing behaviour in this area. In addition, examples of previous policies or interventions designed to reduce littering were reviewed, with reference to whether their impact has been evaluated.

The behaviour change framework and review findings were summarised in a written report for Zero Waste Scotland, which will be used along with the other evidence strands to provide a baseline for policy on littering in Scotland.

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