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Disability adviser Kate Sang recruited to expert panel on single use plastics

Plastics - Image credit: PA

Disability adviser Kate Sang recruited to expert panel on single use plastics

A disability adviser has been recruited to the Scottish Government’s expert panel on single use plastics following concerns over the implications of banning items such as plastic drinking straws.

The expert panel was established following the Programme for Government to explore ways to reduce circulation of single-use plastics.

Ministers then announced plans to make Scotland the first country in the UK to ban the sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds, before also outlining plans to ban plastic straws by the end of 2019.

But disability rights groups called for a pause in the campaign to ban plastic straws, warning that some people with disabilities need them and that current alternatives are not suitable for everyone.

The organisation stated that most paper and plant-based straws are not flexible and they cannot be used for drinks over 40C.

Following concerns, Kate Sang, Professor of Gender and Employment Studies and Disability Co-ordinator at Heriot Watt University, will advise the panel on equalities issues and lived experience, and on the potential implications for disabled people of the group’s proposals.

Announcing the appointment, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I would like to warmly welcome Professor Sang to the role. Her expertise will be vital in shaping our policy and creating environmentally-friendly ways to encourage long-term, sustainable changes in consumer and producer behaviour in Scotland.

“Professor Sang will advise the panel on issues that will or could have an impact on disabled people. One such issue is how we identify ways to reduce plastic waste such as single-use plastic straws, whilst ensuring that people who depend upon them are not disadvantaged. Professor Sang’s expertise and experience will be invaluable.”

Professor Sang said: “I look forward to working with the panel to ensure that disability issues are considered alongside technical matters to sustainable solutions, for example, to the production and use of single use plastics. In addition to my own experiences as a disabled person, I hope to bring my research with disabled people to the recommendations of the panel, ensuring that the work is sensitive the variety of needs of disabled people in a way which supports the aims of the panel.”

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