Single-use disposable cups: EPECOM recommendations

The first report from Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures (EPECOM) sets out its recommendations to tackle the dependence on, and environmental impact of, single-use disposable beverage cups in Scotland.


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

When I began my role as Chair of the Expert Panel I was very much looking forward to working on this important and fascinating area and noted these are global issues that can be addressed using a focused local approach. 

In the year that the Panel has been working, there has been a continued realisation and shock at the harm of plastic pollution in our seas, in our country and throughout the world with actions now being taken by many countries. The world is very much waking up to the harm that our throwaway culture is causing our planet.

We have seen unprecedented action by young people around the world, raising their voices and demanding action. As a former chair of Young Scot, I welcome the leadership shown by Scotland’s young people who are responsibly voicing their concerns over the future of the planet and demanding that change happens here. 

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. 

We have recommended a range of measures from charging separately for disposable cups to developing pilots to promote reusable cups. We have made every effort to ensure that no-one will feel discriminated against because of our recommendations and have kept equality at the forefront of our thoughts. Our overarching message is that social marketing and raising availability and awareness of the alternatives to single-use are vital. There needs to be a move away from single-use disposable beverage cups completely and not just to an improved model for recycling. 

I would like to thank all of the Panel members for their commitment, experience, knowledge and insights. Developing these recommendations has been a lengthy process which I think demonstrates the complexities of the issues. I would also like to thank the stakeholders who participated in our stakeholder events in May and Professor Wouter Poortinga from the University of Cardiff for his literature review and for joining us at a Panel meeting to discuss the work he prepared for us. His insights were thought provoking and extremely useful. Finally I would like to thank the Panel Advisors and Secretariat for their support. 

I am pleased to submit this Report making recommendations on single-use disposable beverage cups to Scottish Ministers.



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