Scotland plans plastic drinks cup tax

The Scottish government is to introduce a charge on single-use drinks cups in a bid to reduce the amount of plastic used

Under the plans, there will be a levy on every single-use cup. The 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 but is likely to be between 20p to 25p. There would also be the facility to apply a levy similar to the current charge on plastic bags in the future to other items proven to cause environmental harm.

Estimates based on current usage suggest the number of single-use cups used in Scotland could reach 310m a year by 2025. The expert panel set up to investigate how to reduce plastic usage argued that the majority of hot drinks should be sold in reusable cups by that date.

Roseanna Cunningham, environment secretary, 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.’

The Scottish government has said it will consult shortly on the draft proposals for inclusion in the Circular Economy Bill, bringing forward this legislation in the coming year. Introducing the levy is part of its plan to cut plastic usage; other options include changes to the regime for plastics disposal and reuse.

Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures (EPECOM) report and recommendations on single-use disposable beverage cups 

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