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Flytipping: Costs, Impacts and Behaviours

Tackling flytipping is an integral part of achieving a zero waste society.

A society where the value of resources is recognised, we use (or re-use) them more efficiently, and where they are recycled rather than thrown away, we retain value in Scotland’s economy. 

Flytipping represents waste that is disposed of illegally and irresponsibly, and – because there is significant potential to reuse or recycle these materials before they are exposed to the elements - tackling the problem is central to the ethos of a zero waste society. Flytipping also imposes significant financial costs on national and local government, businesses, and other organisations, many of which are ultimately borne by the public, either as taxpayers or customers.

This report provides a summary of evidence relating to the problem of flytipping in Scotland. It collates insights gained from flytipping research and intervention projects supported by Zero Waste Scotland over the past years.

The evidence base on flytipping is variable in extent, and, as a result, this report adds more to some areas of our knowledge than others. The report revisits, and where possible updates, estimates on quantities, type, and source of flytipping incidents originally set out in Zero Waste Scotland’s flagship report “Scotland’s Litter Problem” in 2013 – the first time the problem had been systematically examined in Scotland. 

For the first time, we also present publically findings from a Zero Waste Scotland survey in 2014 on public attitudes and experiences of flytipping in Scotland.

The report further contains a summary of flytipping-specific behavioural drivers which were not explored in detail in the litter report mentioned above. Behavioural drivers were identified through a desk-based review of sources published in the UK and abroad. Detail on the review methodology and a summary of the individual sources can be requested from Zero Waste Scotland.

The report addresses the following topics:

  • How much flytipping takes place in Scotland;
  • What waste types flytipping is made up of;
  • What flytipping costs Sottish society;
  • What the known drivers of flytipping are;
  • How flytipping is perceived by the public;
  • Evidence on effective countermeasures. 
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