04 June
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The plan aims to ensure that bins are more effective and efficient in helping to reduce litter overall.  

The plan will include a review of litter bins in West Lothian which could see:

  • A review of all existing bins to ensure that type, size and location of existing bins are correct and meet community needs
  • An increase in the size capacity of some bins
  • Introduction of technology by placing sensors in bins that inform the council when they reach capacity and inform the council where usage is low, helping to identify when bins need to be removed or relocated

The new Litter Bin Plan will be part of the overall Litter Policy which is recommended under the national Environmental Protection Act 1990.  

At a meeting of the council's Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel, the council's plan was agreed and will now be submitted to the Council Executive for approval.

All key stakeholders including community councils, councillors and volunteer clean up groups will be consulted as part of the review.

However the council's NETS, Land and Countryside Manager, Andy Johnston, told the committee that although a Litter Plan is an important step, bins themselves do not stop littering and a change in attitude and culture is required.

He said: "What we know is that the continued reactive cleansing of litter is not sustainable and that the current service delivery model is not recording a demonstrable reduction in litter activity. That isn't just in West Lothian but across the country.

"There needs to be a change in the littering culture to reduce litter and the focus going forward  needs to be on preventive measures and behavioural change, not simply on removing more litter.  We have nearly 2,000 bins and hundreds of volunteers and the council both work to remove littler, every day.

"However removing litter simply creates a culture whereby those that drop litter know someone will come along and pick it up after them. Unfortunately removing litter and providing bins doesn't solve the problem in the long-term.

"Our Litter Plan will help ensure we have the right bins in the right locations. Our hard working teams will increase new ways for litter management, focussed on preventive measures.

""The council's Street Cleaning service is a 7 day service. We have nearly 2,000 bins in West Lothian of which 553 are red coloured dog waste bins mounted on lighting columns or poles. The dog bins will be getting phased out and replaced with combi bins with greater capacity. The aim is to provide easier access to bins whilst increasing capacity - hopefully, in turn, reducing litter.

 "Sadly, those dropping litter currently are doing so with bins in place and with the knowledge that people have to go out after them and collect litter from the streets. These people drop litter regardless and that is something that has to change within our culture which will be part of our overall programme to change behaviour."

Executive councillor for the Environment, Tom Conn added: "It's important to stop making excuses for littering and for those that litter. Littering is caused by people that drop litter - simple.  "It's impossible to stop all littering unless everyone takes responsibility for their actions and does the right thing. Put your own litter in a bin or, if there isn't one nearby, take your litter home with you or keep it until you reach the nearest bin.

"It's not difficult, it's a choice.

 "People often refer to other countries that don't have the same issues we have with litter but their solution isn't bins; it's culture. People in those countries just don't drop litter, as much. That is something we and others must continually look to improve upon and the Litter Bin Plan will hopefully play it's part."