Scotland's single-use plastics ban: fully effective from 12 August 2022

Issued by Zero Waste Scotland

Scotland's single-use plastic ban will be exempt from the UK Internal Market Act from 12 August 2022, allowing the ban to be fully effective.

After this date, the single-use plastic items listed below are fully banned in Scotland unless an exemption applies (e.g. single-use plastic straws).

The ban came into force in Scotland on 1 June 2022, subject to the impact of the UK Internal Market Act 2020, which excluded any of the listed items which were first imported or produced in another part of the UK.

From 12 August, when the exclusion to the Internal Market Act comes in, the ban will be completely effective in Scotland and it will be unlawful to make and supply commercially the above items in Scotland, regardless of whether they are produced or first imported into another part of the UK.  Supply would also include businesses making donations or gifts of items.

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 01 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) is imposed on problematic single-use plastic items which are most commonly found as marine litter in Europe.

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 and lids 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. Supply would also include businesses making donations or gifts of items. 

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

What businesses should use instead

Now that the law has come into force. Businesses are encouraged to be proactive and start shifting to alternatives (such as reusable items).

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 the FAQs in the first instance.

26 Jul 2022