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Secondary schools across Aberdeenshire will be contributing to a national clean-up campaign this year by helping to tackle litter in their communities.

A Schools Litter Challenge will see thousands of young people right across the area thinking about ways to solve local issues and tackle perception.

Conducting litter surveys and identifying local issues, they will also take steps to clear up communities and try to encourage others to join them in taking action.

As well as helping to set up the project in its schools, Aberdeenshire Council is contributing by improving services, providing litter bins in new locations where necessary and dedicating more resources to tackling litter.

Research by Keep Britain Tidy shows conventional litter prevention education aimed at secondary aged school pupils is not particularly effective and alternative approaches are needed to those taken with adults.

Education about littering already takes place in all local schools, and many already carry out litter surveys and take other measures to prevent and clean up litter as part of their work towards Eco Schools Awards.

The Schools Litter Challenge seeks to challenge young people further, to come up with their own solutions to local problems in creative, innovative and effective ways.

Pupils will help devise initiatives to help spread good behaviour inside and beyond the school gates.

Scores will be given for effort, originality and effectiveness and support will be given by the council’s waste team, who will answer any questions and give advice.

Online resources are being developed that will link to research and information and examples of projects carried out elsewhere.

Rewards will include a first prize of £500 for the school to spend on a project to improve their environment, by creating or improving a garden or recreation area, for example.

The project is also a chance for Schools to take part in Keep Scotland Beautiful’s campaign to Clean Up Scotland, ahead of significant national events next year.

It will begin after the summer holidays, running for a school year, ending in June 2014, and will include inspections of school grounds and the local area to monitor steps taken and improvements made.

Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Peter Argyle, said: ““Lots of work has shown that simply preaching to academy age school pupils is ineffective.

“This initiative seeks to encourage pupils to find their own solutions to keep their own environment and surrounding areas tidy.”

Education, Learning and Leisure chair, Isobel Davidson, said: “Academy age children don’t need to be told that littering is not acceptable.

“They very often voice their dislike of it, yet many still do it. The challenge for young people is to look at their own behaviour and that of their peers to find out why this happens and what can be done to change it.”

For details please contact the Trade Waste Team through Wasteline on 0845 600 3 900.