Scotland sets out plans to introduce charges on single-use coffee cups

A panel of environmental advisers previously suggested a charge of between 20p and 25p – but it was not legislated as work was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Plans to re-introduce a mandatory charge on single-use coffee cups are to be set out by the Scottish Government.

A panel of environmental advisers previously suggested a charge of between 20p and 25p – but it was yet to be legislated as work was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An advisory group – which includes representatives from manufacturers and distributors to small and large retailers as well as consumer groups, environmental NGOs and academics – has now been formed to shape plans for mandatory charges on coffee cups and other single-use disposable beverage containers.

An estimated 200 million single-use disposable cups are used in Scotland every year, with the figure expected to rise to 310 million by 2025.

Estimates from Zero Waste Scotland suggest they generate around 4,000 tonnes of waste every year and around 40,000 disposable cups are littered in Scotland annually.

Due to their waterproof plastic lining, they can be difficult to recycle, resulting in most of them being incinerated or sent to landfill.

The introduction of the charges is expected to encourage people to move towards using more reusable alternatives and support the shift towards a circular economy.

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said: “Single-use coffee cups are a classic example of the throwaway culture that we are taking action to tackle. Lots of people already carry a reusable cup with them but hundreds of millions of single-use cups are still being wasted every single year.

“Evidence shows that a small charge on single-use cups can be hugely effective in encouraging people to switch to a reusable alternative.

“I look forward to working with experts representing business, the environment and consumers to take forward this important measure. Alongside Scotland’s deposit return scheme, which will recycle nearly two billion bottles and cans every year and our action to ban some of the most problematic single-use plastics, this will make a vital contribution to reducing the amount of waste generated in the country.”