July 2013

Eunomia Research Informs Scotland’s National Litter Strategy

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The Scottish Government today published its draft National Litter Strategy, which includes a number of proposals designed to prevent and manage both terrestrial and marine litter. Research undertaken by Eunomia has played a key role in developing the evidence base which underpins the draft strategy, which will now be subject to a period of consultation.

In support of the strategy’s development, Eunomia was commissioned by Zero Waste Scotland to provide two reports establishing the scale of the costs currently associated with litter. The first was based on a survey of Scottish local authorities, and sought to establish the direct costs to these authorities, and to other duty bodies, of engaging in the clean-up of litter and clearance of flytipping. The second study was focused on exploring the indirect costs of litter, which are the costs beyond those faced by duty bodies.

Examples of indirect cost categories for which monetary estimates were developed included crime, property values, mental health and wellbeing, and road traffic accidents. In addition to these types of impacts, where the cost is ‘internalised’ in a market transaction, the authors reviewed the evidence in respect of ‘externalised’ costs. These represent the sense of ‘welfare loss’ associated with factors such as the visual disamenity of a park strewn with litter. Overall estimates were developed for both local environmental disamenity, and for beach litter.

Eunomia Senior Consultant Chris Sherrington, who project managed the work, said “It’s gratifying to see our research helping to animate an important development in Scotland’s approach to dealing with litter, and we hope the consultation is widely responded to. The research presented us with many data challenges, but gave us the opportunity to think widely about the less well recognised impacts of litter and respond creatively.”

The Scottish Government’s draft strategy on litter can be found here.