The Scottish Parliament is set to introduce a 25p takeaway cup charge in its own cafes from Monday 4 November. The move is intended to reduce waste and reduce the Holyrood building’s carbon footprint.
The added charge, being introduced by the Parliament’s corporate body, hopes to encourage MSPs, staff and visitors to switch from single use containers to reusable cups.
The additional charge will come into effect ahead of the Scottish Government’s circular economy Bill beginning its parliamentary passage.
In recent years Holyrood’s catering outlets have focussed on switching to sustainable packaging materials including starch-based cutlery, bio-plastic food containers and mixed card coffee cups.
While all of the Parliament’s takeaway packaging can be composted, the new charge aims to discourage single-use cups regardless of their sustainable material type.
Money raised from the charge will go towards environmental and social initiatives. Past in-house schemes have seen donations made to a local primary school to support bio-diversity initiatives.
Victoria Barby, Scottish Parliament Environmental Performance Manager said:
“The Scottish Parliament currently goes through around 60,000 single-use cups a year, but it’s a waste that can be avoided.
“By adopting a 25p charge on single-use cups, visitors and people who work here will hopefully switch to greener, reusable alternatives.
“It’s only a small change in behaviour but it can reduce waste and reduce the Parliament’s carbon footprint.”
The Scottish Parliament has reduced its carbon footprint by 47 per cent since 2005/06 and has reduced the amount of waste it produces by 81 per cent since 2005/06. It also recycles or composts 73 per cent of its waste.
In 2011, the Scottish Parliament switched to fully compostable cups and lids for takeaway coffees after an in-house audit showed that much of the Parliament’s landfill waste was disposable coffee cups.
Holyrood’s Garden Level staff restaurant uses takeaway boxes which look like polystyrene but are actually made of ‘bagasse’, the fibrous material that remains after sugar cane is crushed to extract its juice. It is sustainable and bio-degradable.
The dessert containers and fruit pots look like clear plastic but are in fact ‘bio-plastic’, manufactured from corn plants.
The takeaway soup cups are a mix of bio-degradable cardboard with bio-plastic lids.
In 2018, the Scottish Parliament withdrew plastic straws from its catering outlets. The Parliament has one public café and a coffee bar for passholders in Holyrood’s Garden Lobby.
More about the Parliament’s environmental performance can be found here.
The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body’s decision to introduce a 25p charge was unanimously agreed on 10 October 2019.