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Who is responsible for litter and fly-tipping?

We all have a responsibility to keep Scotland clear of litter and fly-tipping. 

We should all be disposing of waste in an appropriate way - recycling as a first option and using bins destined for landfill as a last resort. We also have a duty of care to make sure our household waste doesn’t become fly-tipping.


  • Litter is everyone’s responsibility. We can all play a part in making sure that items such as cigarette stubs, chewing gum and food don't end up in the environment.
  • Litter can be caused by overspill from bins in bad weather conditions. We can reduce this by ensuring that bins are secured in some way to avoid spillage. In extreme weather it's not advisable to present bins for collection.
  • Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste in places where it shouldn't be. Householders have a responsibility to ensure that their waste is disposed of correctly by:
    • Passing on large items that are still in good condition - contact Re-use organisations that collect in your area using the Re-Use Line directory. 
    • Using your nearest Household Waste and Recycling Centre or Recycling Point
    • Requesting a bulky or special uplift from your local authority
    • Using your kerbside collection to ensure that you're recycling as much as possible
    • Ensuring any organisations that you hire to dispose of waste are legitimate and operating within the law
      • Ask to see a copy of their registered waste carrier certificate
      • Get a receipt confirming what they have taken, where they are disposing it and details of the payment made
      • If your waste is subsequently flytipped you may still be liable for any legal proceedings if you don’t have this information

Duty Bodies and Statutory Undertakers

Section 89 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990) places a duty on certain Duty Bodies and Statutory Undertakers to (1) ensure publically accessible  land for which they are responsible for is kept clear of litter and refuse and  (2) to keep roads clean.

If a body fails to meet their duties they can be taken to court by a member of the public by applying to have a Litter Abatement Order served on the body.

Further information can be found here.

Regulation and Enforcement

The Scottish Government is responsible for the regulatory and legislative framework and providing policy advice and guidance.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency can take enforcement action on large scale and hazardous fly-tipping and Local Authorities will investigate small scale incidents. 

Local Authorities and the Police can issue fixed penalty notices to offenders, they can also report incidents directly to the Procurator Fiscal for further action if the fine isn’t paid.


Businesses can help reduce the impact of litter and fly-tipping by:

  • Keeping the areas around their premises clean
  • Ensuring that an appropriate waste management contract is in place to deal with any waste they produce
  • Where possible reducing the amount or type of packaging on items they sell or procure
  • Engaging staff around preventing litter and fly-tipping
  • Displaying information to engage customers
  • Providing bins on premises to allow customers to dispose of waste items responsibly

Private Land Managers

Owners of private land are responsible for maintaining the land. They should keep it clear of litter and refuse.

If waste on a piece of private land causes a nuisance or environmental health issue then you should report it to your local authority. If you suspect that a piece of land is being used to dump waste illegally you should report it to your local authority or SEPA office.

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