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Charge to be introduced for disposable cups

18 October 2019

The Scottish Government will legislate for a charge to be applied on single-use drinks cups, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has confirmed.

Proposals will be included in the forthcoming Circular Economy Bill.

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

This legislation 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.

This is one of a range of measures that will be implemented in response to the findings of an expert panel set up to advise on how Scotland can tackle the number of single-use cups used in the country – which is estimated based on current usage to reach 310 million a year by 2025.

The panel’s recommendations, published in July, are based on a vision that the majority of hot drinks will be sold in reusable cups by that date.

Environment Secretary Roseanna 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.”


• The Report of the Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures: Recommendations on Single-use Disposable Beverage Cups was published on 17 July 2019. The Panel recommended a minimum charge of 20-25p per cup. 

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