Holyrood passes new law which could bring in charges for single-use coffee cups

MSPs have granted final approval to the Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill.

Holyrood passes new law which could bring in charges for single-use coffee cups PA Media

New legislation that could bring in charges for single-use coffee cups, as well as fines for those who “deliberately contaminate” recycling, has been passed by Holyrood.

MSPs have approved by 116 votes to zero the Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill, which introduces a series of measures aimed at reducing waste and also ensuring households and businesses dispose of their rubbish in the correct way.

While this could see people issued with a fixed penalty notice for putting the wrong items in their bins, climate action minister Gillian Martin sought to reassure Scots.

Penalties for those who put the wrong items in bins would only be used for ‘repeat persistent offenders’, MSPs were told (Anthony Devlin/PA) PA Media

She said these would be used to deal with “repeat persistent offenders”, insisting it was “not for the people who want to do the right thing and have made a mistake”.

Instead Ms Martin said the fixed penalty notices would be for those who have “deliberately contaminated recycling waste”.

Among its measures, the legislation will ban the disposal of unsold goods, preventing companies from sending products which have not been bought to landfill, with ministers to be given the power to set local recycling targets.

Other parts of the Bill could result in charges being brought in for single-use items such as coffee cups, while car and van drivers could be fined if anyone is caught littering from their vehicle.

Ms Martin said there was a “real need to accelerate our efforts on the circular economy”, adding that the Bill would “embed” thinking on this in the government.

“We’re all consumers, we must play our part in reducing waste,” she said.

“That’s why this Bill is so far-reaching, it impacts us all from the goods we buy to what we put in our recycling bins.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater said the Bill was a “significant step forward”, adding it would help bring about changes so it is “no longer acceptable to casually extract materials to make items that will be used only once or just a few times and then thrown away”.

Ms Slater, who had been circular economy minister when the Greens were still in the Scottish Government, said the Bill enabled ministers to introduce measures such as charges on single-use items.

She said: “The measure of success in this Bill lies not simply in passing it, but in taking up the powers it conveys and putting in place practical actions.”

Scottish Green Party co-leader Lorna Slater hailed the Bill as a ‘significant step forward’ (Jane Barlow/PA) PA Media

However both the Tories and Labour said the legislation could have been better.

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said while his party backed the Bill’s general principles, the legislation “lacks the ambition we need to build a sustainable economy and to see it thrive”.

The Tory said: “Even after a decade of trying, the SNP still haven’t managed to deliver on their 2013 household recycling target, and their ‘new’ approach is the same strategy they have been reusing for the past two years.”

He argued “bold and decisive action” was needed, calling on the Scottish Government to “take a more constructive approach to tackle this issue”.

Labour’s Sarah Boyack said: “I don’t think the Bill is as good as it could have been.

“My personal view is I still think it is a missed opportunity, because the Bill is more about recycling waste management than seizing the opportunity to deliver the circular economy our constituents, our businesses and our planet needs.”

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