Scotland to ban single-use plastics by 2030

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 22 January 2018

Scotland will match an EU announcement to make all plastic packaging across Europe recyclable or reusable by the end of 2030 even though a commitment wouldn’t apply to the UK after Brexit.

© European Parliment

We warmly welcome Roseanna Cunningham’s commitment to match the EU timescale for phasing out ‘non-recyclable’ single-use plastics by 2030, regardless of the constitutional arrangements at that time.

Calum Duncan,
MCS Head of Conservation, Scotland

Unveiled last week, the first Europe-wide strategy on plastics includes proposals to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics and restrict the intentional use of microplastics, such as tiny beads put into cosmetics. It also includes measures to boost recycling and cut marine plastics litter, including fishing gear.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham told the Sunday Herald she has asked civil servants to look at restricting the sale and manufacture of all non-recyclable plastics “on an item-by-item basis”.

She told the newspaper: “The EU has been bold by making that statement and obviously they’ve yet to legislate for that so there’s a process that they will go through which will involve member states. Sadly, of course, if Brexit goes through, it won’t involve the United Kingdom.

“I would very much want to support the EU’s position. We will, in Scotland, continue to match the best possible ambition that there is, and particularly match what Brussels is doing.”

Calum Duncan is the MCS Head of Conservation Scotland, he says the recent harrowing footage of plastic impacting ocean life on the BBC’s Blue Planet II has brought the issue firmly into the public consciousness: “It’s a global scourge that our own Beachwatch data has been highlighting for almost a quarter of a century now.

“Given the havoc single-use plastics are causing in marine ecosystems here and globally, we warmly welcome Roseanna Cunningham’s commitment to match the EU timescale for phasing out ‘non-recyclable’ single-use plastics by 2030, regardless of the constitutional arrangements at that time. Our volunteers will continue recording the toll of litter on our coasts and seas come hail or shine to support progressive measures to clean up Scotland’s seas.”

Revealing the plans, the European Commission said it would help tackle plastic pollution, as well as create jobs, boost innovation and cut carbon emissions.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years as part of the Government’s environmental strategy, with calls for supermarkets to introduce “plastic-free” aisles.

The Scottish Government recently announced its intention to ban the sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

Ms Cunningham urged the UK Government to match the 2030 commitment.

“We would be either wanting the UK Government to concede that we could have these powers to go ahead or, alternatively, for the UK Government to sign up to the same ambition and vision so that we are all able to move forward as fast as possible on this,” she told the Sunday Herald.

Do you want to help stop the plastic tide? We are currently [calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items](

Actions you can take

  1. Help us stop the plastic tide
  2. Browse Scotland's Marine Atlas
  3. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019
  4. Find out more about Scottish Wildlife

Did you know?…

Scotland has 10% of Europe’s coastline

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces

Every day millions of microplastics enter the sea from personal care products such as scrubs and toothpastes