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Lib Dems challenge Government to lead by example on disposable cups

January 14, 2018 1:00 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today revealed that the Scottish Government has purchased almost half a million disposable cups in the past year, equivalent to more than 1,200 per day.

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said the revelation showed the Scottish Government must "get its own house in order" and challenged Scottish Ministers to lead by example in reducing waste.

Figures uncovered by the Scottish Liberal Democrats through a freedom of information request confirm that in the 12 month period from 1 September 2016 to 31 August 2017, the Scottish Government purchased 446,056 disposable cups but just 1023 re-usable cups.

Liberal Democrats recently launched their "Save Our Seas" campaign which highlights the 8 million tons of plastic dumped into our seas each year and calls on the Government to:

  1. Commit to a Plastic-Free Charter to eradicate unnecessary plastic waste from Government Departments and set an example to businesses and consumers.
  2. Tackle our throw-away culture by providing incentives for reuse and recycling, including a plastic bottle return scheme and a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups.
  3. Encourage businesses to reduce plastic packaging and introduce plastic free aisles in supermarkets.
  4. Work closely with other countries to find global solutions to tackle the crisis of ocean pollution.
  5. Invest in research and development into non-plastic alternative materials which are cost effective and sustainable in the long-term.

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said:

"The Scottish Government has a responsibility to protect our environment. Instead, it is adding to dangerous levels of waste and failing to lead by example.

"I expect many of the 1,200 disposal cups bought each day by the Scottish Government at taxpayers' expense will have been thrown away.

"It is time for action to protect our environment, streets and seas. That's why Liberal Democrats have led the charge in proposing that coffee cups go the same way as plastic bags. A levy would tackle the fact that only a fraction of cups are currently recycled, reducing waste, encouraging the use of reusable cups and raising substantial money for charity.

"However, it will require leadership from the Scottish Government. If SNP ministers are serious about tackling waste they must bring forward a plan, not least by exploring options in the Climate Change Plan, where any mention is absent."

Scottish Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Mariam Mahmood added:

"We have become accustomed to buying a morning coffee and throwing away the cup without a moment's thought. Together, we use and throw away a staggering 2.5 billion coffee cups each year in the UK. However, there is a growing realisation of the damage that waste on this epic scale is causing.

"Liberal Democrat plans for a charge would recognise this environmental impact and mould consumer behaviour towards using re-usable cups and mugs.

"Ministers could presumably introduce a charge across the Scottish Government immediately if they so chose."