Takeaway Disposable Cups to Face a Charge of up to 25p

Plastic cup B BellThe Scottish Government is putting forward proposals for a charge on single use disposable cups – similar to the one introduced successfully on carrier bags.

Roseanna Cunningham, Environment Secretary in the Scottish Government  said:

“The scale of the challenge is clear – an estimated 4,000 tonnes of waste is generated by single-use cups each year, wasting valuable raw materials and generating unnecessary CO2 emissions in the process.

“For Scotland to become a net zero society, we need a fundamental re-think about how we use and reuse materials and how we handle waste. That is why I am proposing further bold action to tackle Scotland’s reliance on single-use items.”

The move has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth Scotland.  Circular Economy Campaigner Sarah Moyes said:

“Single-use disposable drinks cups are a major source of plastic pollution with around 200 million being used in Scotland each year. Whilst changing individual behaviours like remembering your reusable cup is important, we’re pleased to see this commitment from the Scottish Government that will really cut down our vast over consumption of single-use items.

“Charging people for cups helps people to consider the full environmental costs of our throwaway society.

“We can see the devastating impact of plastic all around us and it’s vital that we start to change our attitude towards single-use items and move towards a circular economy that will reduce our reliance on the planet’s resources.”

“Scottish Government commitments so far to introduce a deposit and return scheme for bottles and cans, a ban on plastic cotton buds, and a phase out of non-recyclable plastics by 2030 put us on the right track.

The charge for disposable cups will be one of a series of measures as part of a future Circular Economy Bill. The recommendation from an expert panel early this year was for a charge of 20 – 25p  for using a disposable cup. You can read their report here: Single-use disposable cups: EPECOM recommendations

The Panel is hopeful that their recommendations on cups act as a spur for action in other areas and will generate greater public awareness to reduce reliance on single-use items and the need to reduce plastic waste more generally. 

Tackling the use of disposable cups is the starting point because these are cups bought ‘on the go’ and therefore difficult to recycle. Some cafes and take away outlets allow customers to bring in their own reusable cups to use but look around in any high street and you will see many people walking around with take away single use cups. The expert panel believes that a minimum price of 20p on each purchase of a disposable cup would go a long way to changing customer behaviour.

Roseanna CunninghamRoseanna Cunningham continued:

“No single measure will be effective on its own. Our approach must involve a joined-up effort across government, business, communities and individuals. Whether it is making the decision to switch from disposable to re-usable cups or making sure cups are dealt with more effectively at the end of their life, we all need to do more to support a more circular economy and reduce our environmental impact.

“We are taking forward a range of other recommendations made by the panel, to support the cultural and behaviour change that will be required to truly tackle our throwaway culture.”

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