Will you be fined for putting wrong things in bins?

Levies on single-use coffee cups, vapes and fines for putting the wrong things in bins could soon become law in Scotland.

Households in Scotland to face fines for putting wrong items in bins iStock

Scots who put the wrong items in their bins could soon face criminal charges.

The Scottish Government’s Circular Economy Bill – expected to pass on Thursday – would see households issued with a fixed-penalty notice for wrongly disposing of their rubbish.

Residents would receive a written warning as a first step before fines would be imposed if a person is found to cause “a nuisance” or “has been, or is or was likely to be, detrimental to any amenities of the locality”.

Penalties could be set similar to parking fines with repeat offenders risking being referred to the police.

The Bill will also introduce a charge for single-use coffee cups as well as single-use vapes.

What is a circular economy and why is this Bill being introduced?

Initially introduced by Greens MSP and then circular economy minister Lorna Slater, the Circular Economy Bill targets “lazy, anti-social behaviour” and the country’s growing “throwaway culture”.

Campaigners have labelled the legislation a “landmark” step in Scotland’s journey towards a more sustainable way of living.

At its heart, a circular economy means that a society focuses on the reuse and recycling of materials and products.

Campaigners want to move away from a “linear” economy which uses and disposes of its resources to a circular one which uses and reuses its resources.

According to Zero Waste Scotland, around 80% of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from services we manufacture, use and throw away.

For the fee on single-use coffee cups, the idea would be by making that more expensive people might switch to a reusable coffee cup that’s better for the environment.

By making the products we use last longer, it could help the Scottish Government reach its goals on net zero and clamp down on the use of plastic.

What is in the Circular Economy Bill?

The Bill proposes a number of measures to clamp down on waste and make Scotland more environmentally friendly, including:

  • Giving councils the power to fine households for putting the wrong things in their bins
  • Charging a fee on single-use items such as coffee cups and disposable vapes
  • Fines for drivers caught littering out of their vehicles
  • A ban on retailers and manufacturers getting rid of unsold items and preventing firms from sending unbought items to landfills
  • New enforcement powers for councils to crack down on fly-tipping
  • Powers for ministers to set recycling targets and requirements to publish a circular economy strategy every five years

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said: “The Scottish Conservatives support the general principles of this bill, but it lacks the ambition we need to build a sustainable economy and to see it thrive.

“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 2- years.

“That is why the Scottish Conservatives submitted amendments to ensure circular economy targets were included and real progress could be made.

“Sadly, the SNP opposed us at every turn, going as far as opposing including a definition of what a circular economy actually is.

“Bold and decisive action is needed to address the climate emergency and now that the extremist Greens have been removed from government I hope the SNP will take a more constructive approach to tackle this issue.”

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