Single Use Biodegradable Cups: Our response

In March 2017, we received a request from the Public Petitions Committee, asking us to provide our views on a petition that called for the Scottish Parliament to introduce legislation requiring that all single use drinks cups (including all sleeves, labels and lids) be 100% biodegradable.

We were pleased to have the opportunity to provide a written response to the committee.

Our response acknowledged that requiring all single use drinks containers to be 100% biodegradable may have the potential to reduce the overall volume of plastic in the waste system, and help to combat some of the difficulties associated with recycling this type of item.

However, we believe that this is not the most effective way to ensure a reduction in the number of single use cups thrown away in Scotland each year, or make a tangible difference to a reduction in the levels of litter caused by this item.

In our view, a reduction in single use cup waste can only be effectively addressed by putting in place an integrated approach that deploys a wide range of interventions from government, local authorities and the private sector that focus on behaviour change.

Recent research has suggested that a combination of financial incentives, availability of reusable cups and clear, sustained messaging is likely to lead to a reduction in this type of waste.

We believe a sustained campaign targeting individuals, with financial and infrastructure enhancements is likely to be much more effective than legislation to introduce biodegradable cups. A significant impact can be achieved through the encouragement of collective, bottom up consumer action towards reduction and reuse.

Read our full response here and the responses of others on the Scottish Parliament website.

12 May 2017

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