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Probe launched on Scotland's use of plastics

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Ministers bid to cut down reliance on everyday plastics

Environmental campaigners have welcomed news that the Scottish Government is launching a public consultation on the banning of several single-use plastic items.

It is proposing to introduce new legislation to restrict the sale or commercial supply of plastic plates, straws and cutlery, polystyrene food and drink containers, plastic balloon sticks and products made from oxo-degradable plastics.

Millions of these are used in Scotland every year, including an estimated 300 million plastic straws, 276 million pieces of plastic cutlery, 50 million plastic plates and 66 million polystyrene food containers.

They are most commonly found washed up on European beaches and were identified as contributing the majority share of litter found in the marine environment in the EU Single Plastics Directive.

Any legislation related to these single-use plastic products is expected to be introduced in 2021.

Scottish 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 the problem. We were the first country in the UK to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plans are well underway for a deposit return scheme in Scotland.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Plastic and Circular Economy Campaigner Sarah Moyes said: “The impact of plastic pollution is everywhere you look and in Scotland we’re using a staggering 700 million single-use plastic items each year. While changing people’s behaviour is important in tackling this issue, the Scottish Government’s consultation is a welcome step towards addressing the problem of plastic at its source.

“Single use items plastic items under consultation like balloon sticks, cutlery and straws not only end up polluting our environment and harming our wildlife, but they are a major contributor to the climate crisis. The more plastic that companies make, the more climate emissions are released into the atmosphere, so it’s vitally important that we reduce the amount of plastic that is produced.”