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Single-use plastics: new laws come into force June 2022*

The new regulations on single-use plastics are coming into force on 01 June 2022*.

After this date, the single-use plastic items listed below will be banned unless an exemption applies.

The introduction of market restrictions on certain single-use plastics is another exciting step forward in tackling our throwaway culture and the shift towards a circular economy in Scotland.

The new regulations from the Scottish Government published on 11 November 2021 mean that some problematic single-use plastic items (listed below) are banned from June 2022*. This follows the publication of draft regulations in March 2021 and a twelve-week public consultation on the issue, which ended in January 2021. A report with findings from the public consultation is available.

The regulations mean that market restrictions (effectively a ban) will be imposed on problematic single-use plastic items which are most commonly found as marine litter in Europe and affected businesses have until June 2022* to prepare for the new restrictions.

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The items which are restricted

The ban means it is unlawful to make and supply commercially any of the following single-use plastic items:

  • Cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks and other similar utensils)
  • Plates;
  • Beverage stirrers;
  • Food containers made of expanded polystyrene;
  • Cups made of expanded polystyrene.

The regulations also make it unlawful to supply commercially the items below. These items are subject to exemptions which allow them to be supplied in particular settings and circumstances:

  • Plastic straws;
  • Plastic balloon sticks;

All the restrictions apply to both online and in-store sales, whether they are free or charged for.

For more information on the items included within the restrictions, please see our FAQs page.

Exemptions and exclusions to the rules

The public consultation and further stakeholder engagement helped to understand the implications of the planned measures and whether any exemptions are required.

Find out more about the single-use plastic straw and balloon sticks exemptions.

Getting ready for the new legislation

Now that the final regulations have been published, businesses affected by the changes have time to prepare for the new laws coming into force and are encouraged to think about managing stock levels of the banned items, in order to avoid waste. We would encourage businesses to be proactive and start shifting to alternatives (such as reusable items) so their single-use plastics stock is used up when regulations come into force on 1 June 2022*. 

When switching to single-use plastics substitutes, businesses should consider this:

  • Banning single-use plastic items can be a big win for some environmental impacts, such as the marine environment.
  • However, simply switching to other single-use items made of alternative materials can lead to other environmental impacts.
  • Businesses may wish to think about how reusables could fit into their operations and where this is not possible, ensure that single-use substitutes are carefully considered.

Explore ways to make more sustainable choices by moving away from single-use here

This is an opportunity for industry to think differently and only offer single-use items where absolutely required, making cost savings and helping to fight the climate emergency. We can make the most positive impact on the planet by shifting from single-use to reusables wherever possible and there are high levels of public support for this shift. A majority 77% of people living in Scotland are concerned about the amount of single-use plastic and single-use packaging we use in Scotland.

If you have any questions on the new regulations please check our FAQs in the first instance.

Stay in touch

Join our webinar on Thursday 24 March at 13:00 to hear from our panel of experts about preparing for the upcoming restrictions on single-use plastics. Find out more.

Should you wish to keep up-to-date with our work on single-use plastics, please sign up to receive news updates.

* Subject to the UK Internal Market Act 2020

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