Increased fines for littering and fly-tipping could be introduced by the Scottish Government to tackle an issue it says costs around £70 million a year to deal with.

Two separate consultations on land and marine litter have been launched by Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead that propose better education and increased recycling areas as ways to reduce litter.

Strengthening the enforcement system by increasing fixed penalty fines from £50 to £80 for litter and from £50 to £200 for fly-tipping is also proposed. Waste dumped on industrial or business premises can result in a fine of £40,000 on conviction.

Research by Zero Waste Scotland, a public body that works to prevent littering and increase recycling, found that £53 million is spent clearing up litter across the country each year, while more than £16 million is spent in wildlife and cleaning costs along coastlines.

Litter also has an indirect cost of £25 million by reducing property values, hitting tourism and contributing to health issues, while greater recycling of plastics and paper could actually be worth around £1 million to the economy, according to the report.

Mr Lochhead said: "Litter is a blight on Scotland's communities and coastlines, tarnishing our beautiful landscapes and harming our wildlife and natural assets.

"For the first time we're able to put a price on the real cost of littering and with more than 250 million items of litter and over 60,000 fly-tipping incidents a year, we must all do more to tackle this problem.

"Much of this litter ends up on Scotland's coastline which is extremely damaging to our precious marine environment and harmful to our wildlife. It is also a major eyesore, with waste often visible on our beaches and in our waters.

"Binning waste is very easy to do but still half the population admits to littering and that's something we must tackle head-on. We are making recycling easier and encouraging people and business to take more care and responsibility."

Iain Gulland, director of Zero Waste Scotland, said: "We welcome this consultation bringing a renewed impetus to efforts to tackle litter and fly-tipping. We particularly welcome the focus on litter prevention given the cost of clean-up to the public purse.

"Littered materials could be worth more than £1 million to Scotland if they were recycled instead. We need to stop thinking of the things we discard as waste and instead treat them as resources which could benefit our economy and this can bring a new perspective to the litter debate."

The Towards A Litter-Free Scotland consultation runs until September 27, and the Government plans to create a national litter strategy in Parliament early next year.

The Marine Conservation Society welcomed the proposals. Scottish projects officer Anne Saunders said: "We applaud the approach that the Scottish Government is taking, to tackle the blight of litter pollution that affects land and sea.

"We have made representations to the Scottish Government over the course of several years and, although delayed, it is good to see a consultation on the strategy at long last.

"A strategy is essential to make sure that everyone who has a part to play does tackle the ever-increasing litter problem which affects the environment, wildlife, industry and tourism, and to meet international commitments."