In 2017 Zero Waste Scotland invited aspiring ‘zero waste towns’ to step forward and create change that would also inspire other communities in Scotland to take action, with funding in part from the European Regional Development Fund. Changeworks, working closely with the local community, won the bid to create Zero Waste Leith and quickly got to work.

Consulting the local community

We consulted organisations, businesses, community groups and residents in Leith to ask what ‘Zero Waste Leith’ would look like for them. One of the most popular requests was to tackle flytipping, which eight out of ten people said was a big problem that had affected them personally. Flytipping is an issue keenly felt in Leith as it has the highest density population in Scotland with more than 90 per cent of people living in a tenement or flat.

Raising awareness

The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness of flytipping and how to tackle it by providing information about responsible disposal and reporting, and to engage more people in taking action to reduce street dumping. We teamed up with Gerry Farrell Ink to make this happen.

The term ‘Flyspotting’ was coined to describe a new approach to tackling flytipping where the local community are actively involved in ‘spotting’ and reporting flytipping, supported by a visible campaign of park railing and stairwell posters, stickers and street stencils. ‘Flyspotting’ also gives a nod to the popular Trainspotting films, partly set in Edinburgh. Changeworks’ team of 60 volunteers played a crucial role in the campaign’s success, rolling out stairwell posters and information booklet to 2,900 households in the trial area, with support from The City of Edinburgh Council. Flyspotting also featured regularly on social media and included a Trainspotting spoof video.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council said:

“The Flyspotting campaign has been a tremendous success in highlighting and tackling flytipping. Initiatives like this campaign are a great help to us in our collective drive to make Edinburgh cleaner, greener and altogether more pleasant for everyone who lives, works and visits.”


Lasting impact

After the campaign, 85 per cent of people consulted said they are now more confident that their community is equipped to tackle flytipping. Over half said they were more likely to report dumped items they see on the street as a result of our campaign.

This confidence was reflected in a 176 per cent increase in flytipping reports to the Council, compared to the same period in 2017. The campaign also had a lasting impact, with a 41 per cent reduction in flytipping on the street eighteen months after the campaign had finished, compared to the same period before the campaign started.

The campaign itself was very warmly received by locals too:

“It was relevant to Leith, there were multiple parts so everyone should have seen it."


While the Zero Waste Leith project comes to an end in July 2020, some aspects of the campaign remain active. You can find out where to reuse, repair or recycle your stuff using our Edinburgh Reuse Map, network with other Leith businesses looking to improve their environmental impact with our Business Charter, and access expert advice on doing what we can locally to support our fragile environment at Zero Waste Leith Facebook page.

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