Single Use Plastics
Scotland's single-use plastics ban: fully effective from 12 August 2022
The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products)(Scotland) Regulations came into force on 01 June 2022; however, were subject to the UK Internal Market Act. The regulations will be exempt from the Act for 12 August 2022, allowing the ban to be fully effective. After this date, the single-use plastic items listed below are fully banned in Scotland unless an exemption applies (e.g. single-use plastic straws).
The ban means it is unlawful to make and supply commercially any of the following single-use plastic items:
- Cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks and other similar utensils)
- Beverage stirrers;
- Food containers made of expanded polystyrene;
- Cups made of expanded polystyrene.
The regulations also make it unlawful to supply commercially the items below. These items are subject to exemptions which allow them to be supplied only in particular settings and circumstances:
- Plastic straws;
- Plastic balloon sticks;
All the restrictions apply to both online and in-store sales, whether they are free or charged for.
A critical exemption is applied to single-use plastic straws, to ensure those who need them to eat or drink independently or for medical purposes can still get access to them. This means that single-use plastic straws are to be available to purchase at in-store or online pharmacies and given on request in hospitality venues.
They are also to be available for those who need them in a small number of other places such as hospitals, care homes, schools, early learning and childcare premises. Furthermore single-use plastic straws can be supplied where they are a medical device, used for medical purposes, used as packaging or by any person providing personal care or support.
Getting ready for the new legislation
We advised local businesses in May to use up any existing stock as quickly as possible. They were also advised that if they had any stock left after the original June deadline then it would make sense to use it rather than throw it away (which would defeat one of the aims of the legislation). Businesses using existing stock were advised to display information for customers saying that the business was aware of the legislation and were just using up existing stock.
When switching to single-use plastics substitutes, businesses should consider:
Banning single-use plastic items can be a big win for some environmental impacts, such as the marine environment. However, simply switching to other single-use items made of alternative materials can lead to other environmental impacts. Businesses may wish to think about how reusables could fit into their operations and where this is not possible, ensure that single-use substitutes are carefully considered.
Consumer and Environmental Services will continue to offer advice and assistance to businesses and will also investigate any complaints in line with our enforcement policy.
There is further information about the new regulations available on Zero Waste Scotland's website (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).