Single-Use Disposable Cups Charge Advisory Group minutes: June 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 27 June 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Jason Harvie, Alliance  
  • Anne Goldie, Assist FM
  • Kirstin McEwan, 2050 Climate Group
  • Emily Robinson, Compass Scotland
  • James Davidson, Disability Equality Scotland
  • Stacey Dingwall, Federation of Small Businesses
  • Martin Kersh, Foodservice Packaging Association
  • Catherine Gee, Keep Scotland Beautiful
  • Neil Whittall and Adrian Pratt, Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group
  • Nicola Howie, Scotland Excel
  • Paul Togneri, Scottish Beer and Pub Association
  • Phoebe Cochrane, Scottish Environment Link
  • Aidan Smith, Scottish Grocer’s Federation
  • Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Scottish Retail Consortium
  • Margaret Smith, Scottish Wholesale Association
  • Graeme Paton, Trading Standards
  • Jim Cathcart, UK Hospitality
  • Lucy Frankel, Vegware
  • David Llewellyn, AVA
  • Brian Lawrie, Environmental Health
  • Lynsey Scullion, Food Standards Scotland
  • Gayle Barclay, Edinburgh Airport
  • Charlotte Booton, Airlines


  • Colin Wilkinson, Scottish Licensed Trade Association
  • Irene Taft, NHS National Services Scotland
  • Professor Liam Delaney, EPECOM economist
  • James Connor, UK Cinema Association

Items and actions

Introductions and aims of the meeting

The Chair opened the meeting and welcomed the group to the fifth meeting of the advisory group. Before the discussion commenced, new members Kathryn Gill (Consumer Scotland) and James Connor (UK Cinema Association) were welcomed.

Colleagues from Hubbub, Green Gain, Starbucks and Costa, joining for discussions on their reusable cup initiatives later in the meeting, were also welcomed.

By way of an update from previous meetings the Chair referred to the following actions:

  • request for Scottish Government to report back on any potential impact that the new Retained EU Law Bill may be expected to have on the single-use cups charge
  • response: Scottish Government does not envisage the Retained EU Law Bill to have any impact on introducing a charge on single-use cups as the intention is to use enabling powers from the upcoming Circular Economy Bill and new legislation to implement the charge

Brief update on developments since the previous meeting

  • meetings with various stakeholders have taken place on implementing a charge on single-use disposable cups. Topics have included enforcement, communications and ways in which other stakeholders are encouraging consumers to use reusable cups
  • the Circular Economy Bill has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament. The Bill includes a provision that would give Scottish Government enabling powers to introduce a charge on single use items
  • Zero Waste Scotland research on the market for single-use cups in Scotland and the impact a minimum charge could have on the amount of single-use cups consumed in Scotland has been published -  Consumption of Single-use Disposable Beverage Cups in Scotland

Scottish Government update

Purpose of item:

  • to provide a policy update since the last meeting of the advisory group

Shaun Taylor (Scottish Government) provided a recap on developments since the last meeting.

  • stakeholder engagement and policy scoping has been ongoing since the last meeting. The Scottish Government has spoken to some of the advisory group members individually as well as other stakeholders. ST thanked everyone involved and stated that this work has been very useful in policy scoping
  • the Circular Economy Bill has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament. The Bill includes an enabling power, that gives Scottish Ministers the power to charge for single-use items, that will be used to implement a charge
  • next steps in relation to the introduction of a charge on single use cups:
    • further stakeholder engagement
    • provisional impact assessments to be completed
    • public consultation and provisional impact assessments published
    • draft regulations for Parliamentary and public scrutiny
    • final regulations laid before Scottish Parliament
  • the next key milestone will be completion of provisional impact assessments. It is intended that those impact assessments will be made available at the same time as a public consultation on the charge. Once the public consultation responses have been analysed, further policy development on the regulations will be undertaken before parliamentary scrutiny of the regulations
  • research on the consumption of single-use beverage cups in Scotland has been published on Zero Waste Scotland website. Anyone wishing more detail or discussion relating to this should send an email via

The Chair took the opportunity to highlight the following key points:

The enabling provision in the Circular Economy Bill is intended to give Scottish Ministers the power to introduce a charge on single-use products.  The Circular Economy Bill is commencing its passage through the Scottish Parliament, and its timing will inform the next stages of policy development on the introduction of a single use cups charge.

Secondary regulations implementing a charge on single-use cups would follow after the conclusion of the Circular Economy Bill Parliamentary process.

The Chair invited attendees to ask questions around the update or any other developments.

The following questions were raised:

Question: Are the impact assessments being commissioned or are they in the process of being designed?

Answer: Impact assessments are being designed at present, but are not yet commissioned or started. We are in the process of deciding what will be included and once we are further along this process, we will re-engage with the group. 

Question: Do you think the UK Internal Market Act will have an impact on the charge?

Answer: We are engaging with the UK Government regarding this point. It is an ongoing process as the final scope of the charge has not yet been decided. The Group will be kept up to date on any developments.

Question: Will you be including mandatory cup take back in your impact assessments and the effect that could have?

Answer: Plans to require some businesses to offer collection points for fibre based composite cups through the mandatory takeback requirement for packaging extended producer responsibility will be taken into account when developing the impact assessments. However, at present no decisions on the final scope of the impact assessments has been made.

Question: Is there going to be a VAT implication as there was with the charge on carrying bags which the public were never fully made aware of? Also, if the money goes to environmental causes, what oversight and enforcement will be in place?

Answer: Scottish Government is considering potential approaches to administering the charge and the use of net proceeds. The group were encouraged to submit thoughts on any of these issues through the email address.

JW added that Scottish Government had been consulting with UK Government colleagues and discussions indicate that the charge would be subject to VAT.

Question: Do you have any idea if the other devolved administrations are going to introduce a similar type of charge for the cups?

Answer: Currently no other UK administration has committed to charging for single-use cups. The Northern Ireland Executive has run a consultation on reducing consumption of single-use plastic cups and food containers.

Reusable cup initiatives information sharing

Presentations were delivered by two organisations on their experiences of reusable cups initiatives. 

  • Gavin Ellis, on Hubbub’s experience in reducing consumption of single-use cups through the various projects they are involved in
  • Stephen Ogden, on the work ongoing in Stirling where Green Gain and Zero Waste Scotland are running a reusable cup scheme trial. Fourteen businesses are offering a reusable cup for a £1 deposit which can be returned to any participating premises

Colleagues from Costa (Laurence Webb) and Starbucks (Jacqui Wetherly and Sarah Hammond) were also invited to share their experiences with the group, as well as Catherine Gee (KSB) who is a member of the group.

Discussion points from both presentations included:

  • the type of organisations that were covered by the research undertaken by Hubbub
  • whether a blanket charge is the most appropriate method to implementing a charge (e.g. the impact on low price drinks from vending machines
  • early findings from the initiative in Stirling)
  • learning from the Costa Coffee scheme in Glasgow (e.g. high price of deposit not ideal and collaboration across organisations will be key) and from Starbucks experiences (e.g. focussing on the customer journey and influencing consumer behaviour is important)
  • consideration should be given to taking a digital only approach as this risks excluding disabled people from participating

The Chair thanked Gavin and Stephen for their presentations; Catherine (KSB) for her contributions and signposting what more is to come from the Highland Cups movement and to Sarah and Lawrence for their contributions and experience.

Discussion and next steps 

The Chair provided the following recap of the next steps:

It is recognise that more engagement and analysis will be necessary to shape the policy proposals, and impact assessments. This will be informed by the advisory group’s input to date. 

ST also signalled that a future key milestone will be a public consultation to inform draft regulations. Following this public consultation, the intention would be to introduce and lay secondary regulations. There is still some way to go on this and the public commitment is to introduce a charge by 2025.

Previous meetings have set out some of the sequence of events that would have to happen and there are some significant dependencies in the meantime, not least the passage of the Circular Economy Bill.

The advisory group will have a continued and critical role to play in shaping the cups charge proposal. The key ask is to continue to work with us, continue the two-way flow of information, help us understand the issues and help gather, collate evidence, and advise us on the approach to the consultation.

Plans for further engagement with the group will be provided later in the year.


The Chair thanked everyone for their attendance and advised that SG will be in contact with the group later in the year to confirm future plans.

A note of the meeting would be circulated in due course.

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