14. Efforts to tackle single-use plastics have been high on the agenda at European, UK and Scottish levels for some time.
15. Scotland is at the forefront of this change, taking concrete action at home as well as exchanging knowledge and practice with our international partners. The proposals set out in this consultation form part of our overall approach to reduce reliance on disposable items and sit alongside a broader range of initiatives already established or underway, including:
- Market restrictions in Scotland on plastic microbeads and plastic-stemmed cotton buds which came into force on 19 June 2018 and 12 October 2019 respectively;
- A 5p-levy on single-use carrier bags, with work underway to increase the charge to 10p;
- The establishment of a deposit return scheme for drinks containers including PET plastic bottles by 1 July 2022, with a 90% collection target by 2025;
- The establishment of the Expert Panel on Environmental Charges and Other Measures (EPECOM) in May 2018 to explore measures to reduce the environmental impacts of on-the-go consumption in Scotland. The group published two reports: Recommendations on single-use disposable beverage cups in July 2019 and Ending the Throwaway Culture: Five Principles for Tackling Single-use Items in September 2020;
- Ongoing work to reform the UK-wide producer responsibility scheme for packaging, with a commitment to consult on detailed proposals in 2021;
- A successful 'Trial Period' campaign to promote reusable menstrual products, delivered by Zero Waste Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government;
- The requirement on businesses, public sector and not-for-profit organisations to present plastic (and other materials) for separate collection as set out under the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012;
- Becoming a signatory to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the UN Environment Programme, demonstrating our commitment to a circular economy for plastics;
- Becoming a founding signatory to the UK Plastics Pact, led by WRAP, a collaborative initiative that seeks to create a circular economy for plastics.
16. The UK Government is also progressing with plans for a UK-wide tax on plastic packaging which would encourage the use of higher recycled content in plastic packaging.