Big support for coffee cup charges in Scotland

A YouGov survey for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has revealed that 72% of people in Scotland would support a charge on single use coffee cups.

The poll asked people if they would support paying a deposit on disposable coffee cups to encourage the use of refillable cups or cups being returned for recycling. Only 8% of responders opposed such charges.

Across Britain as a whole, support was even higher at 74% - that’s almost three out of four people questioned. In addition, 70% of people surveyed supported a ban on the use of polystyrene food containers and cups, with most support coming from those aged 55 or over.

At the recent Scottish Resources Conference, Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, told delegates that the case for a deposit return system on beverage containers had been made and that the Scottish Government would now be looking at other financial incentives such as a charge on single-use coffee cups.

Calum Duncan, MCS Head of Conservation Scotland, says this is good news, hot on the heels of the recent announcement by the Scottish Government to introduce a deposit return system for drinks containers: “MCS wants to see a reduction in all litter items, particularly disposable single-use items like coffee cups, as there are so many easy alternatives. As the environmental toll of litter on our seas grows, we need progressive measures that discourage the throwaway mindset whilst encouraging simple positive actions like using re-fillable ‘on-the-go’ coffee cups and drinks bottles.”

MCS Basking Shark Species Champion and MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, Stuart McMillan, agrees that the success of the carrier bag charge over the past three years proves that a similar tax on single-use cups could be worthwhile.

‘As we look to move away from our throw-away culture which is, ultimately, not sustainable, I’m pleased that the Scottish Government is further investing in ways to tackle single-use products usage. Although we have made steady progress on recycling, the pace with which these improvements are happening must be increased,” said Mr McMillan.

Across the UK in 2015 there were, on average, 11 plastic bags per 100 metres of coastline cleaned during the MCS Great British Beach Clean, but in 2016 there were just under seven – that’s a decrease of almost 40% and the lowest number in the last ten years.