Reducing single cup use in Scotland: report recommends cup charge

reducing single cup use
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An expert panel in Scotland has issued a report recommending a charge on disposable drinks cups as a method of reducing single cup use.

The Recommendations on Single-use Disposable Beverage Cups report, by the Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures, suggests Scottish authorities and businesses impose a charge of 20p or 25p (€0.22-€0.28) on each disposable cup, with the goal of encouraging Scottish residents to adopt sustainable, reusable alternatives. Every year around 200 million single-use coffee cups are used across Scotland.

Dame Sue Bruce, Chair of the panel, said: “Over the first year the Panel has focused its attentions on single-use disposable beverage cups. We have discovered that there are many complex issues to tackle and a myriad of factors that must be considered. We have asked questions about what we can do together in Scotland – as consumers, communities, producers, retailers and government – to radically change our attitudes and our use of single-use items. Our conclusion is that there needs to be a fundamental move away from single-use disposable beverage cups and not just to an improved model for recycling. We have recommended a range of measures to achieve this – including charging separately for disposable cups and developing pilots to promote reusable cups.”

The panel’s report cautioned that there is ‘no single solution’ to reducing single cup use; and that promoting changes to citizens’ behaviour and cultural attitudes to sustainability issues, including single-use plastic packaging, would be a crucial component in the implementation of any other concrete measures.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Disposable cups present an obvious littering issue, but there is ever-growing awareness within our society of the impact single-use plastic has on our wider environment. The scale of the issue is also clear, as is the expert panel’s conclusion that no one measure alone will be effective: our approach to reducing single cup use must involve a joined-up effort across government, business, communities and individuals. I am grateful to the expert panel for their thorough, evidence-based assessment of measures to reduce the consumption of single-use cups in Scotland. I will be giving the report’s findings my full consideration and will respond to the Panel’s recommendations in due course.”


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