How we’re cutting plastic waste in Scotland

Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, making it important to reduce the amount of plastic we waste and recycle more.

According to the Marine Conservation Society, 70 per cent of the litter found on beaches in the UK is plastic. So as well as reducing the amount of plastic that goes to landfill, cutting our plastic waste will also clean up our seas.

There are also benefits for our economy too. By creating a more circular economy, where we keep materials like plastic in use for as long as possible, we can cut costs for businesses and help boost innovation in manufacturing.

Here are just some of the ways we’re taking action to reduce plastic waste.

The Scottish Government introduced a single use carrier bag charge in 2014, cutting their use by 80 per cent in the first year. In comparison to the UK approach, the Scottish charge covered all retailers from the outset.

This year we’ll develop a deposit return scheme for drinks bottles and cans, ahead of a national roll-out – the first government in the UK to do so.

We’re working to end the throwaway culture. A panel of experts will look at new measures, including the introduction of a single-use coffee cup levy. A ban on microbeads is already being implemented and we’re consulting on banning plastic cotton buds – the number one source of plastic litter on beaches.

We will work to ensure that the UK government doesn’t weaken the environmental protections we benefit from now after Brexit.

SNP MSP Katie Forbes is leading a campaign for people and businesses to reduce their use of plastic straws. The ‘Final Straw’ campaign has already won support from the the Marine Conservation Society. The Scottish Government will consider the legislative, financial and accessibility issues related to banning plastic straws before confirming plans.

Over the last 10 years, recycling rates in Scotland have gone up.Scottish households recycled 45.2 per cent of their rubbish in 2016 – up from around 32 per cent for council waste in 2007.

Our action on building a more circular economy has been recognised as world-leading. In recognition of its work, the Scottish Government won the Award for Circular Economy Governments, Cities and Regions at the World Economic Forum summit at Davos in 2017.