Litter blitz launched to tackle £4500-a-day menace

Pupils from Flora Stevenson Primary helped to tackle a "mountain" of rubbish created in Inverleith Park to highlight the 120-bags of litter dropped in the city every day.  Pictured (left to right):  Abinaya Selvaraj (10), Leon Dagg (7), Pam Barnes (convenor of the friends of Inverleith Park), Nicolas Hann-Rengifo (10), Lesley Hinds, Jamie Stewart (11), Mark Bevan (Keep Scotland Beautiful Campaigns Director), Tamanna Paranthaman (7). Picture: Greg Macvean

Pupils from Flora Stevenson Primary helped to tackle a "mountain" of rubbish created in Inverleith Park to highlight the 120-bags of litter dropped in the city every day. Pictured (left to right): Abinaya Selvaraj (10), Leon Dagg (7), Pam Barnes (convenor of the friends of Inverleith Park), Nicolas Hann-Rengifo (10), Lesley Hinds, Jamie Stewart (11), Mark Bevan (Keep Scotland Beautiful Campaigns Director), Tamanna Paranthaman (7). Picture: Greg Macvean

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A MAJOR campaign to tackle the menace of litter – which results in 120 bin bags of rubbish being filled EVERY DAY across Edinburgh – has been launched.

The council spends £4500 a day – £1.6 million a year – scooping up more than 43,000 bags of rubbish.

Pizza cartons, festival flyers and cigarette ends blight the city leading to regular complaints from residents and business owners.

Now, in an effort to consign the problem to the trash forever, we can reveal the authority has launched a major blitz to solve the problem.

Residents and businesses will be asked to sign up to a pledge to help tackle littering, with volunteers also urged to join a mass community clean-up scheduled to take place
at litter hotspots on November 29.

Clean Up Edinburgh, part of the larger Clean Up Scotland campaign, was launched yesterday by environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds.

She said: “There are many cities in the world where people would never even consider dropping something in the street and that’s what we want here, to change people’s mindsets.

“With around 3500 litter bins available in Edinburgh, there is no excuse and when litterbugs cannot be bothered taking responsibility for their own rubbish, everyone is affected. This is why we are asking as many people and businesses as possible to sign the pledge.”

The pledge, which is available on the council’s website, reads: “I pledge to support the Clean Up Edinburgh campaign through my everyday action, by helping free my community of litter and graffiti, reporting incidences of flytipping and abandoned vehicles and responsibly disposing of my litter and mess.”

Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, said he was “delighted” by the ­campaign.

He said: “Essential Edinburgh has it’s own Clean Team, who concentrate on areas of the city centre the council does not cover, such as doorways and basements.

“They have made a great improvement to the area, but the only way to further improve it is to stop the litter being dropped in the first place.

“Cigarette butts are the biggest problem – people smoking outside offices or bars just throw them into the street.”

According to the council, smoking-related litter is the most common problem, followed by drink containers, sweet wrappers and fast-food containers.

The Clean Up Edinburgh launch was also welcomed by Alex Wilson, chairman of Leith Business Association.

Next year, a nine-month pilot scheme on Leith Walk, chosen as a problem hotspot, along with Rose Street and High Street, will see traders hit with £50 fines if their rubbish is placed in the street more than 30 minutes before pick-up time.

Mr Wilson said: “It’s a question of attitude. I lived in southern California for many years, and you never saw litter. Dropping it was not the done thing. If people see others dropping litter, or if they don’t feel they have reason to take pride in their area, then they will be more likely to drop litter themselves.

“Significant improvements are being made to Leith Walk, which are costing £9.1m. Hopefully, once the area is looking better, people will have more incentive to keep it that way.”

Edinburgh achieved a high overall score in the Keep Scotland Beautiful survey released in September but five out of 17 wards – many in less affluent areas – were found to be below the “acceptable standard of cleanliness”.

To get involved in Clean Up Edinburgh visit www.edinburgh.gov.uk/litter.

jen.lavery@edinburghnews.com