Green groups call on Scottish Parliament for ‘radical’ single-use plastic changes

ENVIRONMENTALIST campaigners have called on the Scottish Parliament to ban the use of polystyrene cups and introduce a ‘latte levy’ in a five-point plan submitted on August 30.

Friends of the Earth Scotland, the Marine Conservation Society, Greenpeace, Surfers Against Sewage and APRS urged all of the political parties in Holyrood to come to a cross-party agreement on the plan aimed at eradicating single-use plastics from Scotland.

The plan would see a ban on polystyrene and PVC cups, as well as single-use plastic packaging and utensils used for catering (including those sold as biodegradable or compostable) banned. 

A 25p charge would come alongside every single-use coffee cup, an end date set for the use of single-use cups, all food packaging to be made from readily recyclable polymers by 2025, and a ban on single-use plastic carrier bags of all thickness – with a charge of at least 10p on bags made from all other materials.

If implemented, some of the measures could form part of the forthcoming Circular Economy Bill, while others would not require legislation. Additional measures would be required to meet or exceed the 2042 date for the elimination of unnecessary plastics proposed in May this year by the UK Government.

Sarah Moyes, Plastic & Circular Economy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Scotland, said, “The impact of plastic pollution is everywhere. While consumer behaviour in tackling the issue is important, it’s imperative all five parties at Holyrood commit to addressing the problem of plastic at source by preventing its unnecessary use.

The forthcoming Circular Economy Bill has the opportunity to do that, but we also urge the Scottish Government to go one step further and implement our six point plan so we can reduce the use of single-use plastics in Scotland.

“We need political commitment to ban the most harmful materials so that the packaging from a quick bite to eat or a drink doesn’t damage our environment for years to come.”

John Mayhew, director of Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, added, “Scotland’s forthcoming deposit return system for cans and bottles will make a substantial difference on waste and litter, but there is much more still to be done.

The Circular Economy Bill is an opportunity for Scotland again to set the lead for the rest of the UK, and for us to take another massive step away from a destructive economy that relies on unnecessary single use items.

“That wasteful approach never made sense, even before widespread acceptance that we face a climate emergency, but it will take leadership in Parliament to bring it to an end. Just as all parties support deposit return, so we hope there will be a consensus for these practical next steps too.”

Calum Duncan, head of Conservation Scotland for the Marine Conservation Society, said, “Our surveys have shown that plastic bags on beaches have dropped by almost half since the 5p charges came in, so a complete ban could potentially eradicate this pathway of plastic entering our seas.

“We fully support all the calls to action from APRS as we need these and other radical measures on single use plastics to stop the plastic tide.”

Amy Slack, project manager with Surfers Against Sewage, said, “The health of our oceans and marine life depends on a radical shift in the production and use of single use plastics.

“Scotland has the opportunity to be truly world leading by introducing an innovative mix of bans and charges on coffee cups and utensils that will reduce the use of these items, and ultimately see a reduction in single use plastics we find in our oceans and rivers, and on our beaches.”

Louise Edge, head of Greenpeace UK’s ocean plastics campaign, said, “Scotland has a good track record for being ahead of the game on plastics, as an early adopter of the plastic bag charge.

“We’ve seen how the charge on bags was hugely successful in reducing the amount of plastic bags shoppers use, and it’s now high time for tangible measures such as a ‘latte levy’ to be introduced to further reduce reliance on throwaway plastic.

“We urge Holyrood to lead the way here by bringing in a charge on throwaway cups and banning cups made from polystyrene and PVC.”