Protecting Scotland’s natural environment is a key priority for the SNP Scottish Government. The Scottish Government manages Scotland’s natural environment with the guiding principle that our environment, its wildlife, and the diversity of the industries which depend on it, must be safeguarded for future generations.
While individual action to reduce plastic consumption is important, and campaigns such as the Big Plastic Count are to be welcomed, it is government action that is vital to move away from society’s over-reliance on unnecessary plastics and single use plastics.
The Scottish Government aim to make Scotland a zero-waste society with a circular economy. The SNP Scottish government has a target of recycling 70% of waste by 2025, exceeding EU targets, and matching the EU target for all plastic packaging to be economically recyclable or reusable by 2030. Scotland is also a signatory to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy global commitment.
In the Scottish Government, the SNP will bring forward a Circular Economy Bill to advance Scotland’s ambitions for the circular economy through measures which will encourage reuse of products and reduce waste.
The Scottish Government has already banned personal hygiene products containing plastic microbeads and plastic stemmed cotton buds. In this Parliamentary Session, the Scottish Government will take action to ban single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, stirrers and chopsticks), plates, straws, balloon sticks, food and beverage containers and cups for beverages. These are some of the most environmentally damaging single-use plastics and, bearing in mind equalities interests for exemptions, we will end their supply and manufacture in Scotland.
The Scottish Government recently completed a consultation on this issue focusing on introducing market restrictions on single-use plastics in Scotland. From now, consultation responses will be analysed and will inform our policy, as the Scottish Government seeks to match or even exceed the EU Single-Use Plastic Directive. As we collectively build Scotland’s circular economy, we all must concentrate efforts on reducing plastic use, recycling where possible and reusing resources.
It is vital that the UK Government does not use its Internal Market Act to undermine the ability of the Scottish Government to regulate and ban single use plastics.
The SNP don’t believe in exporting and forgetting when it comes to environmental commitments, carbon emissions, or waste. That is why Scottish carbon emissions abroad are included in carbon footprint calculations.
The Scottish Government is working on attracting investment in reprocessing for PET plastic and other materials in Scotland, to create jobs in Scotland and ensure plastic waste is adequately and responsibly recycled. Around 14% of Scotland’s waste is processed outside Scotland, which is a lost economic opportunity, and reduces oversight of the standards of recycling. Recycling more of Scotland’s waste in Scotland will improve the economy, while also minimising Scotland’s part in environmental damage overseas.
SNP MPs will continue to encourage the UK Government to match the more ambitious Scottish Government’s environmental targets to reduce plastic waste and lower carbon emissions to meet our shared visions of net zero and a sustainable climate.