By Stuart Patterson, Chidiebere Nwogu and Valentin Lehodey
Nine months after its introduction, almost half of Scots are unaware that a ban has been introduced on single-use plastics, according to a survey by Breakthrough Press.
Single-use plastic items such as cutlery, trays, and cups have been banned in Scotland since June 1, 2022.
In a Breakthrough Press survey, 45.3% of our respondents were not even aware that the ban was in place.
Responses also indicated that 70% of respondents residing in Scotland are not satisfied with the current situation on single-use plastic.
50% of respondents said they thought the ban was not effective, while only 30% believed that the ban had reduced their personal consumption of single-use plastic.
Among the responses collected, 67% declared they only used single-use plastic occasionally.
These responses come at a time when the Scottish Government aims to reduce the impact of single-use plastics on the Scottish environment. The legislation was passed during COP26, which took place in Q4 2021 in Glasgow; but securing an exclusion under the UK Internal Market Act 2020 meant that the plastic ban only took effect on June 1 last year.
Speaking in 2022, Scottish Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy, and Biodiversity Lorna Slater, said that the Scottish Government was “turning our promises into action…”adding that, . “This ban will encourage businesses to make the switch to reusable alternatives, helping to reduce litter and cut emissions.” The penalty for breaching the new legislation is a fine of up to £5000. However, 700 million single-use items are still used and discarded in Scotland every year.
At ground level, some Glasgow locals had noticed changes, such as an increase in paper utensils, even if they were unaware of the ban.
International students Brendan McNeill and Inge deCrom, who are new to Glasgow, said they were not aware there was a ban in place.
“But I have noticed there are far more paper products here than in the States,” McNeill said, adding that he was impressed by the widespread use of separate bins for different waste materials.
“It is a good thing for the environment that the ban is in place, so I fully support it,” Chris Quinn, another Glaswegian, said.
When the ban was pointed out to those interviewed, they all agreed that it was a good thing, and many highlighted that they were getting used to the paper and wood alternatives.
Stewart McGowan, co-founder of food delivery company EcoEats, said that they have taken the goal of the ban as a company vision from the start.
EcoEats, Mr. McGowan said, had set out to normalise reusables as part of the food delivery business. This meant getting the food companies to take up the use of their products with provisions for the consumer to have them collected at the door.
“Towns and cities littered with single-use plastics is not good,” said Mr. McGowan.
Many businesses have transitioned to new containers with the new legislation, but it seems that the public's perception of the ban is lacking.
It seems that the biggest need for a single-use plastic ban is making the public aware of just how successful it has been in transforming how businesses deal with it.