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Scotland Legislates On Single-Use Cup Charge

The Scottish Government is to legislate for a charge on single-use drinks cups, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has confirmed.

Proposals that are aimed at tackling a reliance on single-use items will be included in the forthcoming Circular Economy Bill.

This is one of a range of measures that will be implemented in response to the findings of an advisory group, the Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures (EPECOM). The panel was set up to advise on how Scotland can tackle the number of single-use cups used in the country; estimated to reach 310 million a year by 2025.

The panel published its report on 17 July 2019, with a range of recommendations based on a vision that the majority of hot drinks will be sold in reusable cups by that date. It stated that a growing dependence on single-use packaging, associated with our ‘on the go’ and throwaway culture, has increased the volume of waste generated, with single-use disposable beverage cups generating circa 4,000 tonnes of waste in Scotland each year. It is also estimated that 40,000 disposable cups are littered in Scotland annually.

The Panel’s suggested measures range from charging separately for disposable cups, to developing pilots to promote reusable cups, with the report recommending a minimum charge of 20-25p per cup. The Scottish Government has said that the level of the charge will be subject to consultation and approval by parliament, should the legislation be passed, and that the legislation will enable future charges to be applied to other items proven to cause environmental harm.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham 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.

“I am clear, however – as is the Panel’s advice – that 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.”

The single-use cup charge is one of a range of measures that the Scottish Government is implementing as part of its new Circular Economy Bill, which aims to change attitudes towards waste and tackle the country’s throw-away culture. The government has said it will shortly consult on draft proposals for inclusion in the new Circular Economy Bill, bringing forward legislation in the coming year.

It is vital that businesses take action now to future-proof packaging against the numerous changes to legislation that lie ahead. We are working with our packaging compliance members, going beyond compliance to identify threats and opportunities of their current approach to packaging, helping to develop potential for improvements that are not only good for business, but are favourable for customers and beneficial for the environment. Arrange for our packaging compliance team to get in touch to talk about how we can support your business.

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