A ban on many of types of single-use plastic items comes into force today in Scotland, the first such step in the UK.

It means it will be an offence for businesses in Scotland to provide items including plastic cutlery, plates and stirrers, along with balloon sticks, food containers made of expanded polystyrene, and cups and other drink containers made of expanded polystyrene, including their covers and lids.

Plastic straws are also covered, but there are exemptions to allow for those who need them for independent living or medical purposes. 

Around 700 million of these single-use items are currently used in Scotland every year.

The regulations – the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 – come into force following a six month grace period, during which Zero Waste Scotland ran a business campaign to raise awareness on how to prepare.

In order to make the ban effective, the Scottish Government persuaded UK ministers to exclude it from the UK Internal Market Act, which would otherwise have rendered it ineffective as businesses in Scotland would have been able to supply banned items originating from the rest of the UK. The exclusion will come into force shortly. Until then, the Scottish regulations will only apply to products manufactured in or imported directly into Scotland.

Enforcement will be the responsibility of local authorities. Failure to comply with the regulations carries a maximum fine of £5,000.

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said: "Every year, hundreds of millions of single-use plastic are wasted, with many of them littering our beaches, waters and parks. This ban will encourage businesses to make the switch to reusable alternatives, helping to reduce litter and cut emissions."