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by Margaret Taylor
11 November 2021
Green minister unveils ban on various single-use plastics as COP26 draws to an end

Green minister unveils ban on various single-use plastics as COP26 draws to an end

The Scottish Government is to introduce a ban on a range of single-use plastics, becoming the first UK nation to prohibit items such as plastic cutlery and straws and containers made of expanded polystyrene.

On what is expected to be the penultimate day of UN climate summit COP26, which has been taking place in Glasgow since the start of the month, circular economy minister Lorna Slater said legislation had been laid down that will ban “some of the most environmentally damaging items” by June next year.

The ban will cover cutlery – including chopsticks - plates, straws, stirrers and balloon sticks as well as cups and containers made of polystyrene.

Slater said the legislation was being put in place to address the “hundreds of millions” of single-use plastics that “litter our coasts, pollute our oceans and contribute to the climate emergency” every year.

“That has to end and this ban will be another step forward in the fight against plastic waste and throwaway culture,” she said, adding that it is the “sort of bold action that is needed” in order to deliver on the commitments being made at COP26.

The move was welcomed by conservation charity WWF, which said the climate impacts of single-use plastics are huge.

“At every step in its lifecycle, even long after it has been discarded, plastic causes harm to wildlife and contributes to the climate crisis we’re facing today,” said WWF Scotland director Lang Banks.

“If we’re to stop climate change and eliminate plastic pollution from our oceans, we need to rapidly phase out unnecessary single-use plastics.

“It’s been estimated that by 2040, when plastic production is expected to have doubled, climate emissions from the plastic lifecycle will account for up to 20 per cent of the entire global carbon budget.

“I hope that if Scotland can lead on ending polluting single-use plastics, others will follow, and that the UN will act on WWF’s call for a legally binding global treaty on marine plastic pollution.”

Slater added that, as some people require to use plastic straws for medical reasons, exemptions would be included in the legislation. She also noted that she would be writing to the UK Government to ensure the legislation is not impacted by Brexit.

“The ban is at risk from the UK Internal Market Act, which effectively exempts any items that are produced in or imported via another part of the UK,” she said. “I will be writing to the UK government to ask that they take the necessary steps to ensure the integrity of this ban.”

Today is the second last official day of COP26, although organisers have said negotiations could continue into the weekend as the parties seek an agreement on how to tackle the climate crisis. Previous COPs, such as those in Bonn, Katowice and Madrid, ran over by up to two days.

Read the most recent article written by Margaret Taylor - In Context: Miners’ Strike Pardons Bill

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