‘Latte tax’ will come into force next year to end single-use cup waste

The mandatory charge will take effect from next year.
The mandatory charge will take effect from next year.
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A mandatory charge on single-use drinks cups is to be introduced in Scotland, it has been confirmed.

The so called “latte tax”, expected to be about 20 pence a cup, will be drawn up under new laws next year.

About 200 million single-use cups are used in Scotland every year, but this is expected to top 300 million by 2025 at the current rate of use.

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Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said a “fundamental rethink” is needed for Scotland to meet its climate ambitions of becoming a net-zero nation by 2045.

She said: “The scale of the challenge is clear – an estimated 4,000 tonnes of waste is generated by single-use cups each year, wasting valuable raw materials and generating unnecessary CO2 emissions in the process.

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“For Scotland to become a net-zero society, we need a fundamental re-think about how we use and reuse materials and how we handle waste. That is why I am proposing further bold action to tackle Scotland’s reliance on single-use items.

“I am clear, however – as is the panel’s advice – that no single measure will be effective on its own. Our approach must involve a joined-up effort across government, business, communities and individuals.”

The move will be brought forward in the Scottish Government’s Circular Economy Bill, with the level of the charge to be set following a consultation and approval by Holyrood.

If passed, the charge could then in future be applied to other items proven to cause environmental harm.

The charge follows recommendations from an expert panel set up to advise how Scotland can reduce the use of single-use cups.

A charge of around 20-25p was suggested by the panel.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Sarah Moyes said the move will cut the “vast overconsumption” of single-use items.

“Charging people for cups helps people to consider the full environmental costs of our throwaway society,” she added. “We can see the devastating impact of plastic all around us and it’s vital that we start to change our attitude towards single-use items and move towards a circular economy that will reduce our reliance on the planet’s resources.”

“Scottish Government commitments so far to introduce a deposit and return scheme for bottles and cans, a ban on plastic cotton buds, and a phase out of non-recyclable plastics by 2030 put us on the right track.”

The Liberal Democrats have been among the parties at Holyrood calling for the latte tax.

Party environment spokesperson Rebecca Bell said: “Scottish Liberal Democrats have been called for a latte levy for some time so this is a step in the right direction. We have seen with the plastic bag tax that measures like this are extremely effective at cutting the enormous amount of waste we generate. Experts have suggested a charge of 25p but it will now be up to the public and parliament to decide on what the appropriate level is.

“The Scottish Government must ensure that the Circular Economy bill is the trigger for an all-out assault on the scourge of plastic waste.”