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Cup to go… away: Disposable coffee cup charges could be introduced in Scotland

disposable cups

An advisory group has been established that could result in people having to pay for single-use coffee cups and other drink containers.

The Scottish Government’s circular economy minister, Lorna Slater, announced work has restarted on reducing plastic waste after it was paused because of Covid.

Ms Slater said that there is evidence that a small charge for disposable cups translates to more people buying reusable replacements.

The new charge for disposable cups are due to come into force during this parliament.

Following a deal made to govern alongside the SNP, the Green Party has been given a prominent position in government to create legislation.

The advisory group will contain representatives from every stage of the supply chain – from manufacturers and distributors to small and large retailers.

Also participating are consumer groups, environmental NGOs, equalities groups and academics.

An expert panel on environmental charging recommended the introduction of a national, mandatory requirement to sell beverages and disposable cups separately, including an initial minimum price of between 20-25p per cup.

‘Switching to reusable over single-use is one of the best things we can do.’

The hope is to encourage the public to use reusable alternatives to disposable cups and promote a more circular economy.

Ms Slater said: “Single-use coffee cups are a classic example of the throwaway culture that we are taking action to tackle.

“Lots of people already carry a reusable cup with them, but hundreds of millions of single-use cups are still being wasted every single year.

Lorna Slater MSP

“Alongside Scotland’s deposit return scheme, which will recycle nearly two billion bottles and cans every year, and our action to ban some of the most problematic single-use plastics, this will make a vital contribution to reducing the amount of waste generated in the country.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, added: “We know there’s an appetite for action on such items, with a recent Zero Waste Scotland survey indicating that 66% of Scots would support introducing charges to limit the use of single-use plastic and packaging.

“Switching to reusable over single-use is one of the best things we can all do for the environment, so it’s hugely welcome news that work to shape a chargeable cup scheme is continuing with the formation of an advisory group.”

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