Campaigners urge quick political action
The Scottish Government has been urged to act quickly on the public demand for a ban on single-use plastic items in Scotland.
A 12-week public consultation which ended on 4 January was seeking views on the introduction of restrictions on the sale of items including single-use plastic cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and balloon sticks.
Exemptions are likely for products such as plastic straws provided for medical use and to support independent living.
Friends of the Earth Scotland campaigner Sarah Moyes said: “The public response clearly shows that people are concerned about plastic pollution in Scotland and want to see action to tackle these persistent polluters. The knife and fork we use for a quick bite to eat shouldn't endure beyond our lifetime sitting in landfill for hundreds of years.
“Plastic pollutes at every stage of its life cycle from the oil and gas extracted to produce it, to the end products which litter our environment. In order to get to the heart of the plastic problem, we must also look beyond this list of products and address the fact that Ineos, one of the biggest producers of plastic in Europe is right on our doorstep.”
Experts estimate that each year in Scotland, we use an estimated 300 million plastic straws, 276 million pieces of plastic cutlery and 66 million polystyrene food containers. Campaigners say that any delay to action will mean millions more pieces of plastic will end up in landfill or potentially polluting our beaches and waterways.
Under the EU’s Single-Use Plastic Directive, Member States have to introduce restrictions on the sale of some of the most environmentally-harming single-use plastic products by July 2021. The Scottish Government announced in their 2019-2020 Programme for Government that it planned to meet or exceed the standards set out in the Directive.
More than 1,900 people who took action online via Friends of the Earth Scotland backed the Scottish Government’s plans to ban single-use plastic items. They also called for a Just Transition for workers in Grangemouth with the phasing out of fossil-fuel-based plastic production. Ineos is the UK's largest producer of plastic using fracked gas transported from the USA.
The Single-Use Plastic Directive is part of wider work to reduce waste in Scotland. Campaigners raised concerns about how other measures to tackle waste such as the Deposit Return Scheme introduction have been delayed, the Circular Economy Bill was shelved and a ban on biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill was pushed back by 4 years.
Moyes continued: “Scotland could soon be on our way to having communities across the country freed from litter and waste, and that’s why it’s imperative that the Scottish Government moves quickly to ban these polluting plastic items. Even a delay of just six months will lead to hundreds of millions of extra pieces of disposable plastic circulating in Scotland.
“The longer we invest in or support the fossil fuel industry, the longer we lock Scotland into increasing emissions that fuel the escalating climate crisis. If we want to avoid further climate breakdown then we must redirect support away from the plastic industry, like Ineos, instead planning and managing the shift in partnership with trade unions, workers and communities to ensure a Just Transition to a clean industry that moves us towards a circular economy.”