Charges on single-use drinks cups

05 April 2022

Article: 56/1314

On 31 March 2022, the Scottish Government announced the formation of an advisory group that will shape plans for mandatory charges on coffee cups and other single-use disposable beverage containers, work on which had been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The charge is expected to come into effect during the course of this parliament.

The group will contain representatives from every stage of the supply chain, from manufacturers and distributors through small and large retailers, as well as consumer groups, environmental NGOs, equalities groups and academics.

It is believed charging for single-use cups will help encourage people to make the move to reusable alternatives, as well as supporting the shift towards a more circular economy.

An expert panel on environmental charging and other measures had previously recommended the introduction of a national, mandatory requirement to sell beverages and disposable cups separately, including an initial minimum price of between 20 to 25p per cup.

An estimated 200 million single-use disposable beverage cups are used every year in Scotland, with this figure expected to rise to 310 million by 2025. At present, Zero Waste Scotland estimate that disposable cups generate around 4,000 tonnes of waste each year, with around 40,000 of these cups littered in Scotland every year. Due to their waterproof plastic lining, they can be hard to recycle, resulting in most of them being incinerated or sent to landfill.

As part of recently announced packaging reforms, larger coffee shops, fast food chains and others who sell drinks in disposable paper cups will have to provide a dedicated bin to collect and recycle these from 2024.

Source: Scottish Government, 31 March 2022