Tackling the throw-away culture

Behaviour change to reduce single-use cup use.

Applying a charge of at least 20p to 25p on every disposable cup is one of the recommendations put forward by an expert panel to encourage more use of reusable alternatives.

Ministers will now consider the introduction of an additional charge to help cut down on the estimated 200 million single-use coffee cups used every year in Scotland.

The Panel also advises that promoting cultural and behavioural change is critical and will underpin the success of implementing any of the other measures recommended.

A range of other measures and interventions have been provided in the Panel’s report, which states that there is “no single solution” to reducing single-use cup use given the complexities of how people access on-the-go beverages.

Welcoming the report, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Disposable cups present an obvious littering issue, but there is ever-growing awareness within our society of the impact single-use plastic has on our wider environment.

“The scale of the issue is also clear – as is the Expert Panel’s conclusion that no one measure alone will be effective: our approach to reducing single-cup use must involve a joined-up effort across government, business, communities and individuals.” 

“I am grateful to the Expert Panel for their thorough, evidence-based assessment of measures to reduce the consumption of single-use cups in Scotland. I will be giving the report’s findings my full consideration and will respond to the Panel’s recommendations in due course.”

Dame Sue Bruce, Chair, Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures said:

“Over the first year the Panel has focused its attentions on single-use disposable beverage cups. We have discovered that there are many complex issues to tackle and a myriad of factors that must be considered. We have asked questions about what we can do together in Scotland – as consumers, communities, producers, retailers and government – to radically change our attitudes and our use of single-use items.

Our conclusion is that there needs to be a fundamental move away from single-use disposable beverage cups and not just to an improved model for recycling. We have recommended a range of measures to achieve this - including charging separately for disposable cups and developing pilots to promote reusable cups.”


The Report of the Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures: Recommendations on Single-use Disposable Beverage Cups is available to view on the Scottish Government website.

Further information about the Expert Panel, including its membership and remit, is also available.

The Scottish Government is already working to improve recycling rates and encourage behaviour change. Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme will include drinks containers made of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic - used in plastic drinks bottles - as well as glass and aluminium and steel cans.


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