Environmental campaigners including Friends of the Earth Scotland, the Marine Conservation Society and Greenpeace are calling on ministers to ban the use of polystyrene cups as well as introducing a “latte levy”.
An advisory group the Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures was set up in May 2018 to advise the Scottish Government. In their first report it was noted that around 200 million single-use cups are consumed every year generating 4,000 tonnes of waste and approximately 5,900 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, a figure that could rise to 310 million by 2025 without intervention.
The chair of the panel Dame Sue Bruce explained that “Our overarching message is that social marketing and raising availability and awareness of the alternatives to single-use are vital. There needs to be a move away from single-use disposable beverage cups completely and not just to an improved model for recycling.”
The major recommendation to come out of the report is a call for a 20-25 pence charge on single-use coffee cups. Certainly some coffee chains have voluntarily introduced measures to encourage the use of reusables by offering a discount for customers bringing their own cups but a Cardiff University study found that charges were more effective in changing behaviour than discounts.
The panel’s key recommendations to cut the use of disposable cups in Scotland include:
- The use of social marketing measures so that unsustainable consumption becomes socially unacceptable.
- A national, mandatory requirement to charge for drinks separately to cups with an initial price of 20 to 25 pence per disposable cup.
- The development of a national coffee cup consumption reduction target.
- A ban on the sale of non-recyclable polystyrene cups by 2021
- Reusable cup rental schemes to be trialled in certain parts of Scotland by the end of 2019.
- Promotion of recycling where reuse is not yet possible through clearer consumer messaging and innovation in cup design.
Sarah Moyes, of Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “The impact of plastic pollution is everywhere. While consumer behaviour in tackling the issue is important, it’s imperative all five parties at Holyrood commit to addressing the problem of plastic at source by preventing its unnecessary use”.
A Scottish Government spokesman said “We are already taking world-leading action to protect our environment and are committed to bringing forward a Circular Economy Bill in the lifetime of this Parliament.”
“Our expert panel has been clear that no one measure alone will be effective in reducing the impact that single-use disposable beverage cups have on our wider environment.”
“We will consider the report’s findings in detail and will respond to the panel’s recommendations in due course.”
At the beginning of this year everyone in our firm was given a Mitchells Roberton reusable cup.