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Article published 30/05/2022

New laws come into force 1 June 2022

Every year, hundreds of millions of pieces of single-use plastic are wasted in this country. They litter our coasts, pollute our oceans and contribute to the climate emergency.

From 1 June 2022, Scotland will become the first UK nation to ban some of the most environmentally damaging single-use plastic items.

What's included in the new legislation?

The ban will apply to the following single-use items:

  • plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks)
  • plates
  • straws
  • beverage stirrers
  • balloon sticks
  • food containers made of expanded polystyrene
  • cups and other beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, including their covers and lids

Legislation includes exemptions for single-use plastic straws, to make sure that those who need them for independent living or medical purposes can still get access to them. 

Businesses should ensure they have reviewed the implications of this when managing stock levels and to ensure they understand when these items can be used.

Businesses, including individuals operating a business, cannot supply the items as part of their business activities. This would include selling the items or distributing the items by another means, such as providing for free. For example, cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels cannot provide these items to their customers or guests.

Further information

You can read more within the Scottish Government Single-Use Plastics Regulations: draft guidance document. A final version is imminent.

The Scottish Government announced its decision on 11 November 2021 following the publication of draft regulations in March 2021 and a twelve-week public consultation. You can read the full consultation paper on the Scottish Government website.

Zero Waste Scotland has a useful guide which outlines the items which are restricted, exemptions and exclusions to the rules, following the new legislation, and ways to make more sustainable choices by moving away from single-use. Go to the Zero Waste Scotland single-use plastic web page.

It also has a useful list of frequently asked questions (and answers). Take a look at the FAQ.

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