Scots spending £600m a year on single-use plastics

Scottish households spend £600m a year on single-use plastics, research by Zero Waste Scotland has revealed.

To come up with the figure, the environmental pressure group estimated the cost of every piece of grocery packaging by obtaining wholesale prices from a wide range of packaging manufacturers.

Additional costs such as shipping, marketing and waste management were excluded, and the lowest cost/ kg obtained for each packaging category was used to ensure a conservative estimate.

On top of the cost at the supermarket till, Scots pay around £40m a year to cover the costs for local authorities to collect and manage all that single-use packaging once it is thrown in the bin.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: ‘That it’s collectively costing Scots millions of pounds every year to buy and then dump single-use packaging, much of which is avoidable plastic, is a staggering waste of money as well as resources.

‘Worse still is the devastating impact that much of the unnecessary plastic packaging is having on wildlife and our climate.

‘Scotland has led the way with its plans for a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans. We now need to see the same effort given to dealing with other avoidable single-use plastic and packaging – starting with making manufacturers and retailers responsible for ensuring the easy, affordable option is also the plastic–free option.’

Zero Waste Scotland has called on lawmakers to introduce ‘price signalling’ to drive positive behavioural change.

This would involve labelling packaging to show how much it costs to produce and dispose of which they believe would nudge shoppers towards unpackaged products.

This would also encourage manufacturers and retailers to find new ways of eliminating single-use packaging.

Read the report here.

Several major supermarkets are now making tentative steps into removing single-use plastics from their stores.

In April, Tesco launched a trial programme to collect previously unrecyclable plastics in 10 of its stores.

Customers will be able to return to trial stores everything from pet food pouches to shopping bags and crisp packets, all of which cannot commonly be recycled by local councils.

In May, Morrisons announced they will become the first British supermarket to roll-out plastic free fruit and veg areas. Customers will be able to choose from up to 127 varieties of fruit and veg – and buy them loose or put them in recyclable paper bags.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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