The Scottish Government has today (11 November 2021) introduced regulations to ban a range of single use plastic items including plastic cutlery, plates, straws and expanded polystyrene food containers and cups. The regulations will come into effect in six months’ time and there will be some exemptions to support independent living and medical purposes.

This step towards reducing plastic pollution has been welcomed by environmental campaigners, who say that this move must be followed by a move to reusable products. There is a danger that single use plastics will be replaced with other single use materials rather than reusable alternatives. Research has shown that the environmental savings from reusables are much greater than any single use options.

Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland said 

“Single use plastic items are a symbol of our throw away culture. The Scottish Government has listened to the demands of the public, who were hugely in favour of banning all the items on the list.

“This move is a good first step, but ending the plastics crisis requires more than banning a short list of single use items. Over 99% of plastics are made from fossil fuels so reducing the production of plastic is essential for reaching our climate change goals. Plastics pollute at every stage of their life cycle, from oil and gas extraction, plastics production and transportation to finally, incineration, landfill or littering. Attention must now be turned to the producers of plastics.

“Producers must be held to account for flooding markets all over the world with cheap plastic goods whilst taking no responsibility for their social and environmental impacts. Crucially, they must not be allowed to simply switch from one form of single use material to another, rather than seeking out reusable alternatives.

“The ban on some single use plastics items must be the first step towards a more sustainable future. We need more sustainable solutions to our plastic products, beginning with less packaging and more reusable products. Targets to reduce material consumption are needed to create a circular economy in Scotland.”

INEOS, based in Grangemouth, is the UK’s largest producer of plastics, which are made with fracked gas transported from the USA. The top five plastic polluting corporations this year have been The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Unilever, Nestle and Procter & Gamble. The Coca-Cola Company has been the number one polluter for the last four years.

The Scottish Government’s consultation analysis showed that 94% of individuals who responded were in favour of banning all single use plastics items consulted on.

FoES Plastic pollution briefing note: https://foe.scot/campaign/plastic-pollution/

FoES Circular Economy briefing note: https://foe.scot/campaign/plastic-pollution/what-is-a-circular-economy/ 

Scottish Government consultation analysis on market restrictions on single use plastic items:


Break Free From Plastic Brand Audit 2021: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/brandaudit2021/

Life Cycle Initiative (2021) Single use plastic tableware and its alternatives


Friends of the Earth Scotland is:

* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation

* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland

* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.