Scottish businesses face up to £5,000 fine for flouting single-use plastics ban

01 June 2022 by
Scottish businesses face up to £5,000 fine for flouting single-use plastics ban

Rules banning businesses in Scotland from providing certain single-use plastic items come into force today, with fines of up to £5,000 for breaches.

From 1 June it will be an offence for Scottish operators to give customers plastic cutlery, plates and stirrers.

Single-use plastic straws, which may be used for medical purposes, are exempt from the ban.

Food boxes made from expanded polystyrene, which are a common packaging option for takeaways around the UK, are also covered by the law, which applies to both online and in-person interactions.

Responsibility for enforcing the new rules lies with local authorities, which can now impose a maximum fine of £5,000 on businesses failing to comply.

The executive director of industry trade body UKHospitality Scotland today called for initial "light touch" enforcement.

Leon Thompson told The Caterer: "As with any major move like this we would expect enforcement to be light touch, with authorities continuing to explain the changes to businesses, helping them to get things right where necessary."

The Scottish Parliament estimates that around 700m single-use plastics are used in the country every year. Alternatives include wooden and plastic-feel compostable cutlery.

Legislation on the ban was passed by the Scottish Parliament during the COP26 climate change conference last year, but it is being enforced at a time when businesses are facing soaring costs.

Ibrahim Dogus, chair of the British Takeaway Campaign, urged ministers to consider future changes in the context of the economic environment.

Dogus said: "It's right that we all make efforts to reduce our impact on the environment, and Scotland's takeaways and restaurants will do their best to play their part.

"We've got to be mindful however, that this ban is one of many new changes being implemented and proposed by the Scottish and UK governments. Many restaurants are struggling to keep their doors open as it is, and this is yet another added cost.

"Future changes should be looked at in the round, and the smallest businesses should be given additional time to implement them, once the economy is back on its feet."

The ban is being enforced after a six-month grace period for businesses, during which Zero Waste Scotland ran a campaign to raise awareness on how to prepare.

For a brief period until the UK government excludes products covered by the new ban from the Internal Markets Act, Scottish businesses could technically still source banned plastic products from other parts of the UK.

Scotland's circular economy minister Lorna Slater said: "While we are frustrated that the exclusion will not be in force by 1 June, it will follow soon after, meaning this important ban will be fully effective across Scotland."

Plans to introduce a similar law in England have also been discussed.

A ban on single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds already came into force in England in October 2020.

Image: O.PASH/Shutterstock

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