Plastic straws, cutlery and polystyrene food containers could be banned in Scotland after the Government launched a consultation about the plans.
The Scottish Government is seeking views on whether to ban or restrict the sale of single-use plastic items in a bid to reduce some of the most environmentally damaging litter.
Items at risk include plastic plates, straws, cutlery, balloon sticks, polystyrene food and drink containers.
These single-use plastics are the ones most commonly found washed up on European beaches and were identified in the EU Single Plastics Directive as contributing the majority share of litter found in the marine environment.
An estimated 300 million plastic straws, 276 million pieces of plastic cutlery, 50 million plastic plates and 66 million polystyrene food containers are used annually in Scotland alone, according to the Government.
Products made from oxo-degradable plastics, that break down to micro-plastic pollution and negatively affect the recycling of conventional plastic, could also be banned.
Any ban or restrictions – including on the supply or manufacture of single-use plastics – could come into effect as soon as 2021, the Government suggests.
We must act now to reduce our reliance on single-use plasticRoseanna Cunningham, Environment Secretary
Urging individuals and organisations to respond to the consultation, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “There is no longer any doubt that plastic waste is having a hugely damaging impact on our oceans, rivers and land ecosystems.
“We must act now to reduce our reliance on single-use plastic and drive forward a move towards more sustainable, environmentally-friendly alternatives.
“Failure to do so is a dereliction of our duty to our children, who will inherit a natural world polluted by the plastics we have thrown away for the sake of convenience.
“This Government is committed to tackling this problem. We were the first country in the UK to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plans are well under way for a Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland.
“The proposals published today will take us further – keeping pace with the environmental standards of our European partners and reaffirming our position as a world-leader in the circular economy.”
We need to reduce our consumption of single-use items. @GreenerScotlandÂ has published its final EPECOM report today, detailing the five key principles for tackling single use items. #SingleUse #GreenRecovery— Zero Waste Scotland (@ZeroWasteScot) September 18, 2020
Read 'Ending the Throwaway Culture' here: https://t.co/rrQGlJBeb5 pic.twitter.com/DthHUwm7wT
Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Plastic is by far the most commonly used material in today’s single-use culture.
“There are clear benefits in use, of flexibility and durability, but plastic also causes significant damage when it leaks into our natural environment, including our rivers, lochs and seas.
“The consultation offers an opportunity to protect wildlife and prevent the heartbreaking scenes we see all too often in TV documentaries like Blue Planet 2.
“We hope people will also take this opportunity to adopt more sustainable solutions, such as reusable alternatives, to these single-use items.”