Scotland Proposes Ban On Plastic-Stemmed Cotton Buds

Plans to introduce legislation to ban the manufacture and sale of plastic stemmed cotton buds have been announced by Scotland’s Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham in a bid to cut plastic waste.

The proposals will be put to public consultation and would position Scotland as the first country in the UK to legislate against these “environmentally damaging” items, according to the Scottish Government.

It says plastic cotton buds are consistently listed in the top ten forms of beach litter in surveys by the Marine Conservation Society and Scottish environmental charity Fidra has been working with industry to promote biodegradable alternatives.

“These products are completely unnecessary as biodegradable alternatives are readily available. The need for action is clear and I would encourage everyone with an interest in safeguarding our natural environment to take part in the consultation when it opens.”

Announcing the Scottish Government’s latest move to tackle the main sources of marine plastic pollution, Ms Cunningham said: “Banning plastic cotton buds would be a clear sign of our ambition to address marine plastics and demonstrate further leadership on this issue. Despite various campaigns, people are continuing to flush litter down their toilets. This has to stop.

“Scotland’s sewerage infrastructure collects and treats some 945 million litres of wastewater each day. These systems are not designed to remove small plastic items such as plastic buds which can kill marine animals and birds that swallow them.

“These products are completely unnecessary as biodegradable alternatives are readily available. The need for action is clear and I would encourage everyone with an interest in safeguarding our natural environment to take part in the consultation when it opens.”

The move comes as Theresa May last week unveiled the UK Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan, which vows to eliminate “avoidable plastic waste” by 2042.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) summarised what the country is doing to cut plastic waste:

  • The Scottish Government introduced a single use carrier bag charge in 2014, cutting their use by 80% in the first year.In comparison to the UK approach, the Scottish charge covered all retailers from the outset.
  • This year we’ll develop a deposit return scheme for drinks bottles and cans, ahead of a national roll-out – the first government in the UK to do so.
  • We’re working to end the throwaway culture.A panel of experts will look at new measures, including the introduction of a single-use coffee cup levy. A ban on microbeads is already being implemented and we’re consulting on banning plastic cotton buds – the number one source of plastic litter on beaches.
  • We will work to ensure that the UK government doesn’t weaken the environmental protections we benefit from now after Brexit.
  • SNP MSP Katie Forbes is leading a campaign for people and businesses to reduce their use of plastic straws.The “Final Straw” campaign has already won support from the Marine Conservation Society.
  • Over the last 10 years, recycling rates in Scotland have gone up.Scottish households recycled 45.2% of their rubbish in 2016 – up from around 32 per cent for council waste in 2007.
  • Our action on building a more circular economy has been recognised as world-leading.This has included in recognition of its work, the Scottish Government won the Award for Circular Economy Governments, Cities and Regions at the World Economic Forum summit at Davos in 2017.

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