The Vision: Targeting Coastal Litter

Taking action to map and monitor litter on Scotland’s coast. Aerial photography allows us to find hidden litter on our rugged coasts – help us to help our coasts!

Marine and coastal litter is a global issue and over recent years has become a hot topic with the public, politicians and the media. Closer to home, there are major problems with litter on Scottish coasts, but exactly where litter is accumulating is poorly understood. This is where SCRAPbook comes in!

Throughout 2018, volunteer pilots and observers from UK Civil Air Patrol (Sky Watch) invested over a hundred and fifty hours flying the Scottish mainland, capturing images of the rubbish around our coastline. These images were then classified according to the amount of litter visible by a team who volunteered over a thousand hours of their time. All of these were then used to create our interactive map showing the true scale of the litter problem around the coast of Scotland for the first time!

This ground-breaking, baseline data is helping us to start to understand where litter is accumulating and subsequently to target cleaning efforts at the worst affected areas.

The map is accessible, easy-to-use and has already proven successful in directing individual volunteers, beach cleaning groups, local communities, businesses, kayaking clubs and schools to undertake targeted, efficient cleans and litter surveys especially in overlooked or unknown areas in desperate need of a clean. This has garnered great media coverage which has led to even more use of the map, which is fast becoming an invaluable tool to everyone tackling the rising tide of marine litter.

The project is an initiative led by the Moray Firth Partnership and Sky Watch working with national and local organisations across Scotland. At its heart, however, are volunteers, from taking off to cleaning up! Click here to find out more about how you could help!

During our first year, SCRAPbook received a huge amount of support, and now after further investment from the Scottish Government through Marine Scotland, we are also focusing on engagement. Our aim is to collect information from those on the front line, to find out exactly when and where the map is being used and the amount of litter regularly being collected.

To share your coastal cleaning stories and photos please e-mail or message us!

We are now also working ‘on the ground’, with two Marine Litter Officers, based in Oban, who are determined to make a huge difference in cleaning up the Argyll coast. They will be targeting the removal of the more difficult or harder to reach debris working with local businesses and boat owners.

But there is still so much more to be done. In order to get the full picture and understand the issue nationally, this year we are seeking funds to extend out to the Scottish islands where we already have lots of enthusiastic volunteers who, in their words, are “battling against the tide of debris washing ashore on a daily basis.” If you can help raise funds, you’d like to donate, or you are a business that could offer financial or in-kind support please do get in touch at

Our volunteer pilots will also be re-flying the mainland coast to start to assess change over time and to fully identify areas as litter sinks. This will generate many more images that will need to be classified and if you’d like to be one of our citizen scientist volunteers, please register here.

With 2019 looking to be as busy and exciting as our first year, please get involved and you can follow us on Facebook @SCRAPbookScotland, Twitter @SCRAPbook_Scot and Instagram @scrapbookscotland 

2018 in numbers

0 hours of flying time

Over 0 volunteer hours spent photographing and classifying

Litter found at over 0 locations across Scotland