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Scotland to ban single-use plastics

The Scottish Government yesterday (12 October) launched a public consultation on banning the sale of single-use plastics within the country.

Tackling Scotland’s throwaway culture seeks the Scottish public’s views on banning single-use plastics – including plastic plates, plastic straws, plastic cutlery, polystyrene food and drinks containers, plastic balloon sticks and oxodegradable plastics.

With an estimated 300 million plastic straws, 276 million pieces of plastic cutlery, 50 million plastic plates and 66 million polystyrene food containers used in Scotland every year, these items have been identified as the majority share of litter found in the ocean.

Following the example set by the EU with its Single-Use Plastics Directive, Scotland hopes that the proposed legislation will, if passed, tackle the negative impact of plastic waste on the country’s communities and ecosystems and ‘keep pace with the environmental standards of Scotland’s European partners, re-affirming its position as a world-leader in the circular economy’.

As well as outlining the environmental impacts of plastic waste, the consultation document also emphasises the hidden costs of single-use plastics for taxpayers, amounting to around £78 million a year.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “There is no longer any doubt that plastic waste is having a hugely damaging impact on our oceans, rivers and land ecosystems. We must act now to reduce our reliance on single-use plastic and drive forward a move towards more sustainable, environmentally-friendly alternatives.

“Failure to do so is a dereliction of our duty to our children, who will inherit a natural world polluted by the plastics we have thrown away for the sake of convenience.
“This government is committed to tackling this problem. We were the first country in the UK to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plans are well underway for a Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland.”

Scotland’s ban of plastic microbeads in June 2018 and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in October 2019 preceded England’s ban of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, which was introduced earlier this month.

Recognising the impact of the current coronavirus situation, the consultation acknowledges the challenges posed by the crisis and that any change in legislation must be ‘carefully managed and inclusively delivered’.

Cunningham continued: “In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important that the introduction of these measures is carefully considered. It is why we are keen to hear a range of views and I would encourage any individual, business or organisation with an interest to respond to the consultation.”

The consultation is open until 4 January 2021 and can be accessed on the Scottish Government’s consultation platform, Citizen Space. 

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