Litter Prevention and Education
The litter problem and how to help.
We all want West Lothian's streets towns and villages to be clean and tidy and we all need to work together to achieve this.
The Street Cleansing Team manage and empty litter bins and remove litter from roads, footpaths, town centres and rural road side verges. We get lots of help from volunteers too and work with groups to pick up the bags of litter they collect. The easiest way that you can help is to always put your litter in a bin. There are 2000 litter bins across West Lothian, but we can't have bins on every street so if you don't see one nearby, take your litter with you and put it in the correct wheelie bin at home.
Educational Resources for Schools and Groups
West Lothian Council has four Education and Enforcement Officers. They can help you organise a community litter pick and provide equipment and visit your school or community group to talk about litter and the environment. They can also issue fixed penalty notices of £80 if they see you drop litter. Find out more about what they do by visiting the Education and Enforcment Officers page.
Zero Waste Scotland have downloadable educational resources aimed at S1 and S2 pupils. You can access the #GetLitterLiterate resources here or read on for more litter facts and figures!
The Problems with Litter
Tidying up and disposing of litter costs Scotland £1 million pounds a week. This is an unnecessary expense that could be far better spent on other services. 15,000 tonnes of litter is dropped every year in Scotland that equates to 475 items of litter dropped every minute. One piece of chewing gum costs about 3p to buy, but £1.50 to clean up. It's not just the cost of clearing litter up that is a waste of resources. Lots of litter could be easily recycled and made into something new, saving valuable natural resources, instead of dirtying the streets, clogging up rivers and oceans and harming wildlife.
Litter looks untidy too and can affect how people feel about the area they live. We all know that West Lothian is a great place to live and work, but it doesn't always look that way when litter is blowing around our streets and parks. Research has shown that litter can negatively affect house prices and the crime rate. Litter thrown from vehicles or blown onto roads can cause traffic accidents and punctures.
Litter harms animals. Wildlife and pets can be injured by broken glass, become trapped in discarded plastic bags or containers or mistake litter for food and choke. The SSPCA receives 2 calls every day relating to animals injured by litter. These injuries are entirely avoidable if everyone bins their litter correctly. Litter can also attract unwanted wildlife like rats. A cigarette or broken pieces of glass discarded in the countryside can cause wildfires.
Litter attracts more litter! People are more likely to drop litter when there is already some lying around. The easy way to stop this happening is to use your own brain and always bin your litter or take it home.
Litter just breaks down and disappears ... doesn't it?
Nope. Litter likes to hang around, sometimes for years, sometimes forever! These are just a few examples of commonly littered items and how long they will stay in the environment. Even when something like a plastic bottle or a crisp packet can't be seen any more, it doesn't mean it's gone, its just broken up into lots of tiny pieces.
Apple core - 1 month
Pizza/burger food waste - 6 weeks
Cardboard packaging - 3 months
Banana skin - 2 years
Cigarette butt - 12 years
Coffee cup - 30 years
Crisp packet - 80 years
Aluminium drinks can - 200 years
Plastic bottle - 450 years
Polystyrene - 500 years
Chewing gum - never breaks down
Glass - never breaks down