Single-Use Disposable Cups Charge Advisory Group minutes: May 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 24 May 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Alison McKinnie, Zero Waste Scotland
  • Sarah Archer, Zero Waste Scotland
  • Jacqui Mitchell, Zero Waste Scotland
  • Shaun Taylor, Scottish Government
  • Jonathan Waite, Scottish Government
  • Janet McVea, Scottish Government
  • David Llewellyn, AVA
  • Jason Harvie Alliance,
  • Debbie Hosie, Assist FM
  • Kirsten McEwan, 2050 Climate Group
  • Emily Robinson, Compass Scotland
  • James Davidson, Disability Equality Scotland
  • Jack Evans, Joseph Rowntree Organisation
  • Catherine Geef, Keep Scotland Beautiful
  • Irene Taft, NHS National Services Scotland
  • Neil Whittall, Paper Cup Recycling and Recovery Group
  • Professor Liam Delaney, EPECOM economist
  • Nicola Howie, Scotland Excel
  • Paul Togneri, Scottish Beer & Pub Association
  • Phoebe Cochrane, Scottish Environment Link
  • Luke McGarty, Scottish Grocer’s Federation
  • Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Scottish Retail Consortium
  • Margaret Smith, Scottish Wholesale Association
  • Graeme Paton, Trading Standards
  • Leon Thompson, UK Hospitality

Note taker

  • Jacqui Mitchell, Zero Waste Scotland


  • Rachel Cook, Federation of Small Businesses
  • Martin Kersh, Foodservice Packaging Association
  • Colin Wilkinson, Scottish Licensed Trade Association

Items and actions

Welcome and opening remarks from Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity

The Minister introduced the meeting by setting out relevant policy drivers and Scottish Government’s commitment to introducing a charge on single-use disposable beverage cups. The Minister emphasized the important role that the Advisory Group would play in informing decisions about how the charge could be implemented; and thanked everyone for agreeing to be part of the group. The Minister then left the meeting.

Introductions and purpose of advisory group

Roundtable introductions

The broad range of interests within the Group was noted, reflecting the range of interests across the whole supply chain and beyond. 

Terms of reference – overview and initial discussion 

By way of introduction, the Chair noted that:

  • the proposed purpose of the Group was to provide expertise and advice on the implementation of a charge on single-use disposable beverage cups
  • work on implementing a charge on these single-use cups has been delayed due to Covid
  • this Group’s work is the first stage in formulating what the charge will look like
  • the Group will have the opportunity to provide expertise on a range of issues including scope, implementation and mitigation of issues
  • the aim of this initial meeting is to begin to set the course by mapping a range of issues the group feels need to be worked through in the coming months
  • the format and frequency of the Group’s meetings can be flexible and members will have scope to decide how best to progress discussions going forward

Jonathan Waite, Scottish Government, summarised the terms of reference.

The Group noted the draft Terms of Reference (TOR). No substantive amends were proposed. It was agreed that the TOR is a live document and will be updated as the group evolves e.g. new members. 

Points raised in discussion included:

  • no single measure will achieve the desired outcomes of tackling consumption of single-use cups and promoting reusable alternatives and the issue is multifaceted
  • there is a need to maintain a focus to deliver the primary objective of the Group - introducing a charge on single-use disposable beverage cups
  • it was noted that although charging is considered effective, the use of single-use disposable beverage cups is more resistant to behaviour change interventions than, for example, single-use carrier bags
  • the potential for setting a target reduction in single-use cup consumption was raised
  • there was discussion about making the best use of the expertise within the group and sharing knowledge and best practice
  • it was raised that the definition of a cup will need to be clarified, and subsequently noted that this will be part of the Group’s remit

 In conclusion:

  • it was agreed that it would be important to retain a primary focus on the mandate the Minister has asked the group to progress – to inform plans to introduce a charge on single-use disposable beverage cups
  • therefore, this Group is focused on considering how the planned charge should be implemented, but there are opportunities to harness insights and expertise from members regarding wider measures to promote reuse

Context setting


The purpose of this item was to consider the context for the work of the group in terms of Scottish Government’s commitments, wider developments as well as the work and recommendations of the Expert Panel on Environmental Charges and Other Measures (EPECOM). 

Shaun Taylor, Scottish Government, took the group through a brief summary of the relevant policy context and on how Scottish Government commitments.

Points raised in discussion included:

  • types of charging model (additional cost or cost-neutral)
  • international experience and best practice
  • the impact of the cost of living crisis on implementing a charge
  • engagement with the UK Government

Group members also highlighted several areas for further consideration (e.g. cups which are part of free school meals, patient relatives attending cafes within hospitals).

Alison McKinnie, Zero Waste Scotland, took the group through a brief summary of research undertaken by Zero Waste Scotland on charging for disposable cups and research to be undertaken on the use of disposable cups in Scotland

Points raised in discussion included:

  • VAT implications for the charge and engaging with UK Government on this subject
  • policy measures related report published by WRAP and if any findings are relevant to this work
  • the interaction between implementing a charge on single-use disposable cups and extended producer responsibility (EPR) mandatory take back requirements 
  • the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 and the impact of the Internal Market Act 2020 on this legislation

The Group was encouraged to consider in more detail reports on environmental charges that have been carried out previously; and related developments, including the reform of extended producer responsibility and other policy measures.

Action points

  • feedback any relevant points from NHS Catering Services Expert Group at the next meeting
  • follow up on query regarding recycling options for alternative products after single-use plastics regulations come into effect
  • provide further clarity regarding the implementation of the planned exclusion from the Internal Market Act for the single-use plastic regulations

Group discussion

Initial mapping/discussion of key issues and considerations in relation to the planned charge

The group discussed key issues around: 

  • scope and approach
  • implementation issues and mitigations 
  • monitoring, evaluation and enforcement 
  • terms of reference and membership

Other issues

The Chair summarised that the Group had begun to unpack some of the issues under the range of different headings and thanked the Group for their input Further in depth discussion of these issues will be conducted in future meetings. The Chair noted that it will also be important to consider the interactions and interdependencies with other policy measures to avoid unintended consequences. 

It was agreed that the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland will take away the points raised and factor them in to the agenda for future meetings. The output of this session will be circulated to the Group.


Shaun Taylor, Scottish Government, informed the group that the Scottish Government are running a Call for Evidence on Single-use food containers and other single-use items, which closes on 30 June 2022.

Closing remarks


  • the Chair thanked Group members for their constructive contributions during this initial meeting which have begun to map the range of issues that will need to be considered in more detail to help support the decision making around implementation of a single-use disposable cups charge The Chair encouraged members to continue to share further reflections or other relevant work with the group between meetings
  • it was proposed that the group will meet approximately every six weeks in the first instance but that this would be flexible and take account of issues to be considered. It was recognized that some discussions could be progressed in smaller groups
  • it was suggested that it would be helpful for members to share email addresses and a short biography
  • the date of next meeting was proposed as 28 June 2022, 10am – 12noon

Meeting ended 12:00pm


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