£500,000 to reduce single-use plastics

Pupils from Rockfield, Lochnell and Sunnyside Primary Schools attended the marine litter summit in Oban, with, back row left to right, CalMac's environmental manager Klare Chamberlain, the environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham, and Zero Waste Scotland CEO Iain Gulland.

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Communities will be able to bid for a share of up to £500,000 to reduce single-use plastics, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced at a ‘marine litter summit’ in Oban.

The new Action on Plastic Zero Waste Towns initiative will provide community groups with funding ‘to deliver actions which would benefit their environment and local economy’.

These could include introducing water bottle refill facilities, switching all single-use items in the community to the same material to make recycling easier, or replacing single use takeaway containers with reusable systems.

Ms Cunningham announced the new support at the ‘Reducing Plastic Waste and Marine Litter’ summit in Oban which brought together businesses and groups to discuss what actions can be taken in this area.

She said: ‘This new Action on Plastic project will help communities find ways of reducing and reusing materials and preventing them from polluting our seas.

‘Plastic is ubiquitous. We are not going to get rid of it. The issue is how we use less of it, how we make it recyclable, and how we make people put it in the right place to be recycled.

‘80 per cent of the waste in the sea has come from the land. So much being picked up is from the Irish coast and cruise ships. It has to be part of a global effort. It is also an economic argument. We are losing £53 million a year on waste uplift and failure to recycle.

‘As our ban on the manufacture and sale of rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads comes into force [on June 19], I would encourage every community and organisation in Scotland to consider what it can do to change behaviours and protect our environment.’

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland which is delivering the initiative, said: ‘We’re already supporting a number of trailblazer Zero Waste Towns and this new funding will help us to unlock even more great ideas led by communities to tackle our throwaway culture.’

CalMac environmental manager Klare Chamberlain said: ‘So far we have completely removed straws and are now moving on to cups and other plastic packaging such as milk cartons and sauce sachets. Longer term our ambition is to remove as much plastic food packaging on board as possible.’