Litter is dropped on Glasgow's roads every three seconds on average, according to new analysis, which also found that out-of-town shopping centres are a popular dumping ground for drivers.

Using advanced image capturing and AI data-processing technology, scientists from waste auditing service Ellipsis Earth worked with environmental charity Hubbub to create a detailed map of the locations and types of litter dumped from vehicles.

Vehicle cameras were used to survey A-roads and B-roads in Glasgow including junctions as well as the city centre and retail areas across the city.

The data showed that litter accumulates where vehicles drive at slower speed, such as traffic lights, junctions and roundabouts.  A total of 169,597 pieces of litter were detected in one month.

Discarded food and drinks packaging was twice as high in out-of-town sites than the city centre, particularly in the evenings.

The survey also found that litter is dropped on average every three seconds on the roads of Glasgow with cigarette butts, paper, glass bottles and plastic fragments, often broken down from food and drink litter the most common types of roadside litter.

Hubbub worked with Glasgow City Council and environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful to test various litter-busting interventions in key hotspots: Paisley Road West and Dumbarton Road.

Supported by a radio and social media campaign, signs and lamppost banners were rolled out, encouraging road users to ‘Keep it ‘til you bin it’.

Glasgow Times:

A second survey measuring changes in litter levels showed the impact of the interventions, predominantly on Paisley Road West and found that putting bins in targeted locations was four to five times more effective and the combination of signs and bins together led to a 25% reduction in littering.

Wrapping bins led to a 45% drop in littering within 20 metres of the bin and this increased to 58% when also paired with signs.

Paul Wallace, campaign manager at Keep Scotland Beautiful said: "Scotland is facing a litter emergency.

"Our data highlights that many of our streets, open spaces, and roadsides are blighted by litter, so it’s imperative that we trial new, and innovative ways of tackling it.

“Utilising technology, such as AI, to collect data allows us to better target action and adds value to the thousands of data points, we have from on-the-ground surveys across the country.  

"With 89% of people perceiving litter levels to be a problem nationally we know that engaging a broader audience through fun activities will have an impact and it is great to see Glasgow leading the way to trial this study.”

It comes after Inverclyde was named Scotland's dirtiest city following analysis for The Herald of raw data by Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB)

Nearly one in six sites they inspected in Inverclyde -  which includes the towns of Greenock and Port Glasgow - was “unacceptably” dirty.

Glasgow was runner-up in an unofficial league table of litter while Orkney is now the cleanest place in the country. 

Gavin Ellis, Co-founder and Director of Hubbub added:  “This is the first time AI has been used to map out roadside litter and the learnings we can take from this work in Glasgow can actually be applied to areas across the UK.

“The data shows we need to make it easy for drivers to bin rubbish, provide bins where drivers stop, and ensure they are visible and easy to access.

"It’s also important we encourage them to bin rubbish before getting on the road again."