ENVIRONMENT minister Roseanna Cunningham tonight challenged the UK government to match Scotland’s commitment over a plastic bottle deposit return scheme.
Speaking at Scotland House in London, Ms Cunningham told an audience of business and environmental leaders that she was disappointed the UK Government’s long-awaited 25 Year Environment Plan failed to commit to a deposit return scheme.
And she warned: “The time for action is now.”
It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May and environment secretary Michale Gove laid out Westminister plans to rid the UK of avoidable plastics by 2042.
But Cunningham’s intervention comes after a weekend when she called for her UK counterparts to move on policy and tax changes to speed up change.
She said: “The Scottish Government is responsible for the environmental protection of around ten per cent of Europe’s coastline so we have a particular duty to demonstrate leadership.
“But, of course, discarded plastics are having a growing impact on land as well as at sea.
“We believe a deposit return scheme for drinks containers has a vital role to play in protecting our environment and wish to co-operate with the UK government, and other devolved administrations, to deliver the best possible scheme for everyone.
“The time for action is now, and I urge the UK Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to join us in this important endeavour.”
Earlier this month, the Scottish Government became the first UK administration to announce plans to ban the use of plastic cotton buds, one of the items most often washed up on beaches.
Ms Cunningham has already pledged that Scotland will back the EU’s vision to phase out single use plastics by 2030 and urged the UK Government to do the same – “Brexit or no Brexit.”
Her call was supported by environmentalists.
Gina Hanrahan, Acting Head of Policy at WWF Scotland, said the UK government’s delay risked seeing them fall out of step with Europe.
She said: “Plans by the Scottish Government to phase out single use plastics by 2030 is a really welcome and significant step forward.
“The tide is turning quickly on plastics and we’re confident consumers in Scotland will support deposit return.
“We urgently need to help consumers reduce plastic consumption where it is clearly unnecessary.
“The UK Government plan to wait until 2042 will see more plastic than fish in our oceans.
“To avoid falling out of step with the EU and Scotland, the UK Government needs to go further faster to halt the wave of coffee cup, plastic bottle and other plastic waste.”
A spokesman for the UK Government’s department for environment, food and rural Affairs said: “Our commitment to reduce plastic waste is clear.”
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