Action on plastics

Cotton bud ban comes into force.

Scotland has become the first country in the UK to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

This is the latest step being taken to reduce reliance on single-use products and protect our natural environment.

Further action is already planned with Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme expecting to capture 90% of aluminium and steel cans, glass and plastic bottles once operational.

A commitment to meet or exceed the standards set out in the EU single-use Plastics Directive means that other items, including cutlery, plates and food and drink containers made of expanded polystyrene, will be banned or restricted by July 2021.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“I am proud that the Scottish Government has become the first UK administration to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds, with Regulations laid in Parliament on 2 September now coming into force.

“Single-use plastic products are not only wasteful but generate unnecessary litter that blights our beautiful beaches and green spaces while threatening our wildlife on land and at sea.

“This ban builds on work already underway to address Scotland’s throw-away culture, and we will continue to take action on other problematic items in the coming years as part of our efforts to reduce harmful plastics and single-use items, protect our environment and develop a thriving circular economy.

“We are facing a global climate emergency and must all work together to reduce, reuse and recycle to ensure a sustainable future for the current and next generation.”

Scotland Conservation Officer for the Marine Conservation Society Catherine Gemmell said:

"Marine Conservation Society volunteers have picked up over 150,000 plastic cotton bud sticks from Scottish beaches over the last 25 years so this ban coming into force is a fantastic win for our seas and wildlife.

"We look forward to more ambitious action from the Scottish Government and to working with them on further actions needed to stop the plastic tide."


A ban on the manufacture and sale of microbeads came into force on 19 June 2018.


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