Whether you are travelling in your own campervan or motorhome or in a hire vehicle it is your responsibility to ensure you leave no trace of your travel and dispose of your waste in the correct manner.
This page gives helpful advice about disposing of all of the waste you may create whilst on a trip in a campervan or motorhome.
One of the biggest rules of touring in a campervan or motorhome is to respect your surroundings, take only memories and leave no trace, so you must take ALL of your general waste and rubbish with you to dispose of correctly.
Every campsite has general waste disposal facilities and the majority have recycling facilities too. We highly encourage you to recycle as much waste as possible when touring in Scotland. Please do not drive onto a campsite just to dispose of private rubbish – campsite owners have to pay for business waste collection and it’s not fair to dump your waste in campsites without paying.
If you are not on a campsite but need to dispose of waste, please only place bags of rubbish in larger council waste collection facilities in towns and villages. Private household bins should not be used and public roadside/car park bins are for smaller, single items of rubbish only. Never leave bags of rubbish beside a full bin – keep it in your motorhome until it can be disposed of properly, taking it home if needed.
Most supermarkets now have recycling bins and the majority of towns have a recycling centre (although be careful of height restrictions).
There are some great campaigns to support for Scotland and we encourage you to read up on these before your journey.
Keep Scotland Beautiful – leading the way to improving Scotland’s environment, tackling a wide range of environmental issues, from reducing the amount of litter on our streets to cutting the carbon emissions that threaten our planet.
Give your litter a lift campaign – Read what you can do to support this great campaign!
I Love SKYE campaign – Volunteer rangers and community clean ups on the Isle of Skye
If you see litter that has been left behind and you have a spare few minutes to make a difference and have a bag, please do what you can to clear it up and help us keep Scotland beautiful.
When travelling around Scotland in a motorhome or caravan, please ensure that all toilet waste is properly disposed of and follow this guidance:
In Scotland it is best to use biological/septic tank friendly toilet chemicals – many small campsites are linked to septic tanks and it helps keep these tanks working properly if everyone uses environmentally friendly chemicals.
If you are hiring a campervan or motorhome with a toilet facility, then you should be shown how to empty and maintain it. If you are not shown, then it is extremely important to ask the hire company to explain it before you set off!
Chemical toilet waste is also known as black waste and the emptying points at campsites or service points are called a Chemical Disposal Point (CDP), Elsan disposal point or Black waste disposal point.
Chemical toilet waste should NEVER be emptied ANYWHERE other than a designated area at a campsite, a motorhome service point, or in your own sewage system at home. Never pour toilet waste into streams, rivers, lochs or undergrowth, even if it’s only urine – emptying a container of urine will kill vegetation and may pose a health risk.
Under no circumstances should chemical toilet waste be emptied at a ‘Grey waste’ emptying point, this is just for the emptying of your grey waste water tank NOT your toilet waste. Your toilet cassette or porta potti should also always be kept away from the fresh water area of a service point.
Public toilets are not appropriate locations to empty toilet cassettes as there are no facilities available for cleaning up spillages. Some public toilets also only link to small sewage treatment systems and cannot cope with multiple toilet cassettes being emptied in a short space of time. Look for signs on public toilets telling you where the nearest Chemical Disposal Point is located.
Some campsites/businesses do offer motorhome service point and CDP facilities for a small fee which helps pay for their upkeep. If you need to empty toilet waste between campsites, find one of these facilities and if it has a donation box, please be honest and make a donation to help keep up the investment in motorhome facilities.
It is illegal to dump sewage waste into the environment. Fixed penalty notices can be issued, or individuals can be prosecuted and face imprisonment and/or a fine. Please help protect Scotland and dispose of all sewage responsibly in proper facilities.
What do I do if I see someone disposing of waste irresponsibly?
If you see anyone disposing of toilet cassette waste or dumping rubbish illegally, take photos of the motorhome and driver, including the registration number and make a note of the exact location, time and nature of the incident. Then report it to the Dumb Dumpers Stop Line online report : www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/DumbDumpers
If the incident is on-going, is believed to be a hazardous nature or is near a watercourse, the information will be passed to SEPA or Police Scotland as appropriate. If the incident is not urgent or the waste concerned is non-hazardous, the information will be passed to the local authority for investigation. Never put yourself in danger if taking details.
Waste water is also known as grey water and this is the water that goes down your sinks/shower and collects in an onboard waste water tank in your vehicle. Sometimes this is also piped into a separate holding tank that you attach to your vehicle.
Most grey water is quite harmless, but it does depend on what washing up chemicals you are using and it may also contain small traces of food waste etc.
As a rule, grey water should be emptied at a campsite motorhome/caravan disposal area to go into the sewage system for proper treatment. Do note this area is different to where you empty your toilet waste. You will see the signs for “Grey waste disposal” and it will normally be a drainage point to drive over.
You should not empty your grey waste water anywhere other than a designated area on a campsite or motorhome service point. Do not empty your water in parking areas, on roads or laybys. Scotland is trying to lead the way in responsible waste water disposal and whilst there may be limited amounts of chemicals in grey water, Scotland is aiming to ensure that all grey water, whether from road drains or households, is treated and returned to the environment in its purest form.
In times of water shortages, some campsites may ask all campers to collect grey water for the hedgerows. Please check with each campsite owner what is acceptable for their site but don’t assume you can do the same on another site.
If you are hiring a campervan or motorhome, make sure that you are shown where the waste tank drain points are and it is demonstrated how to empty the waste water. If you are not shown, do not leave until you are shown!
Refilling your fresh water
Most campervans and motorhomes have onboard tanks that can hold fresh water for you to use for drinking, cooking, cleaning and washing.
It is very important to make sure that you are filling your tank safely and using water that is signposted as safe to drink – don’t assume all taps supply drinking water.
Make sure that when you are using a fresh water point that you use the correct hose! Do not use a hose that has ever been used for emptying waste water as this could be contaminated and make you very sick.
Always keep your fresh water hose off the ground as you do not want it to touch mud, grass, drains or anything that could cause an illness when you put it into your fresh water tank.
If you are hiring a motorhome, you should be shown how to properly fill your fresh water and what hose to use. If you are not provided with a hose you must ask for one!
If you run out of water and cannot find a suitable tap to refill your motorhome, ask for advice in a local village or buy bottled water to drink – please make sure to recycle the plastic responsibly!
If you are travelling with pets on board it is as important to clear up after them, as it is to clear up after yourselves!
On paths and in urban areas, make sure that any pet toilet waste is collected in a bag and disposed of at the nearest “poo bin” or waste bin.
If walking in remote countryside, it is acceptable in most places to ‘stick it & flick it’, so dog poo is moved into undergrowth with no risk that anyone can walk in it. Some dogs like to leave their waste at the base of tree trunks, but if at the edge of a path, remember that these trees are often used by children playing – so please be considerate of other people and remove dog waste.
If walking dogs in areas that may be used by sheep, always bag and remove dog poo as it can cause serious diseases and be fatal to sheep. The National Sheep Association offers useful advice for dog owners Here.