Charge on single-use drinks cups in Scotland

In a fresh bid to help tackle reliance on single-use items, the Scottish Government will legislate for a charge to be applied on single-use drinks cups.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said that legislation, of which the proposals will be included in the forthcoming Circular Economy Bill, would also enable a charge, similar to the carrier bag charge, to be applied in the future to other items proven to cause environmental harm.

Should the legislation be passed, the level of the charge will be subject to consultation and approval by parliament.

Based on current usage, the number of single-use cups used in the country is estimated to reach 310 million a year by 2025.

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.”