Group to consider plans to introduce charge on single-use drinks cups

It's estimated that around 40,00 disposable cups are littered across Scotland each year.

Group to consider plans to introduce charge on single-use drinks cups in Scotland iStock

Plans to introduce a mandatory charge on coffee cups in Scotland are to be set out, with experts being asked for their views as part of a new advisory group.

The charge, which will also apply to other single-use disposable beverage containers, is part of a crackdown on tackling waste across the country.

It is hoped that by charging for single-use cups, more people will be encouraged to start using reusable alternatives, such as flasks.

In Scotland, it is estimated that around 40,000 disposable cups are dropped throughout the country each year.

Due to their waterproof plastic lining, the cups can be difficult to recycle, meaning that most of them are either incinerated or sent to landfill.

From 2024, larger coffee shops, fast food chains and others who sell drinks in disposable papers cups will have to provide a dedicated bin to collect and recycle them.

The advisory group being established by the Scottish Government will be made up of representatives from every stage of the supply chain.

That includes manufacturers, distributors, large and small retailers.

And the group will also contain consumer groups, environmental NGOs, equalities groups and academics.

It comes after work on tackling single-use cup waste was restarted having been paused during the coronavirus pandemic.

Scotland’s circular economy minister Lorna Slater pointed to evidence outlining the effectiveness of introducing a single-use charge scheme.

“Single-use coffee cups are a classic example of the throwaway culture that we are taking action to tackle,” she said.

“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.

“Evidence shows that a small charge on single-use cups can be hugely effective in encouraging people to switch to a reusable alternative.”

Slater continued: “I look forward to working with experts representing business, the environment and consumers to take forward this important measure.

“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 insisted that switching to reusable cups is “one of the best things we can all do” for the environment.

“Single-use items, like cups, are emblematic of the throwaway culture we need to change if we want to tackle the climate crisis,” he stated.

“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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