Rise in 'throwaway culture' provoking litter 'emergency'

Streets and beaches are strewn with single-use vapes, cigarette butts and rubbish - and volunteers say the issue is getting worse.

Scotland is heading towards a litter emergency unless people’s attitudes towards throw away culture change, an environmental group has warned.

Keep Scotland Beautiful has been running its annual Spring Clean with more than 500 events across the country, with 25,000 people taking part in clearing away rubbish.

Despite more people taking an interest in cleaning beaches and rural areas, Heather McLaughlin said the issue is getting worse.

She told STV News: “On beaches and across the whole of Scotland, whether it’s on parks or streets, we’re seeing a lot of food and drinks litter.

“We’re seeing a lot of single-use vapes and the number one item as always is cigarette butts. We have declared a litter emergency.

“We’ve seen an increase in what’s on the streets but we’re also seeing this is a problem we care about.

“What we are trying to to do is to encourage people to bin their litter but also think about what we’re consuming and whether can we change behaviour, so we don’t have to have as many bins, or as many things in our hands that we need to bin.”

The annual Spring Clean started on March 17 and will run until April 17, with volunteers tackling the issue on land and in the seas.

Andrew Best from Ancrum Outdoor Centre regularly takes to the water to stop litter washing onto the beaches.

He said: “On the beaches it’s mainly plastic and a lot of face masks but you never know what you’re going to find. Sometimes you see fishing nets and stuff like that comes from the fishermen.

“But a lot of it is plastic and waste we are producing on land and it’s going into the water source – and it’s coming down the rivers and then coming out to sea.

“If we can stop it or reduce it it’s better for everyone.”

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