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Rise in River Tay trash inspires hard-hitting anti-litter campaign

Emily Hamilton-Peach, assistant manager at Willowgate, with rubbish collected from the River Tay
Emily Hamilton-Peach, assistant manager at Willowgate, with rubbish collected from the River Tay

A canoe-load of River Tay trash has inspired a national anti-littering campaign.

Day-trippers and holiday-makers are being urged to keep Scotland “stunning” and leave beauty spots unspoilt.

The Zero Waste Scotland drive was partly prompted by worrying images of debris dumped in the Tay during lockdown.

Discarded plastic bottles, beer cans and polystyrene takeaway trays were scooped out of the water by staff at the Willowgate Activity Centre.

Assistant manager Emily Hamilton-Peach highlighted the growing problem by loading up the collected waste on her canoe.

“We regularly see litter that has floated down the River Tay from people leaving it in the park and this volume has recently increased,” she said.

“A lot of our customers come to us because they want to get close to nature, enjoy the sights and see the city from a different side, it can spoil it for them if the river and banks are left in a state.

“We try to pick it as we see it but there is only so much you can do.”

The issue of littering around Perth has led the local council to consider eye-catching new signs, such as the ‘Don’t Be a Tosser’ posters that proved effective in York.

Publicly-funded Zero Waste Scotland hopes it new campaign – slogan: “Scotland is stunning – let’s keep it that way” – will inspire people to get out and about, but remind them to take their litter home.

It comes as Scotland’s tourism sector reopens after lockdown, and businesses brace themselves for an influx of customers.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland said recent scenes of abandoned campsites and rubbish-strewn beauty spots were “hugely damaging” to the country’s reputation.

“People are understandably keen to enjoy everything Scotland has to offer as the summer holidays stretch out in front of us,” he said. “With tourism re-opening in Scotland and many areas – from hills and lochs in rural Scotland, to city parks – expecting an increase in visitors, we want to remind people to bin their litter or take it home.”

Barry Fisher, CEO of Keep Scotland Beautiful added: “Litter levels across Scotland are unacceptable, and in many places are getting much worse.

“Alongside this campaign we will continue to offer support to all those who have already stepped up to tackle this problem in their own communities with litter clean ups and projects to improve and protect the places they care about.”

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