Scotland proposes total ban on plastic cotton buds

The Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP has proposed an outright ban on the sale and manufacture of plastic cotton buds in an ambitious move to mitigate the flow of plastics waste entering the oceans and washing up on Scottish beaches.

The MSP was visiting Gullane beach in East-Lothian when she made the announcement yesterday (11 January).

A recent clean-up operation conducted on the beach by The Cotton Bud Project, a campaign run by Scottish Environmental charity Fidra, found hundreds of plastic buds washed up.

Outlining the need for a ban Ms Cunningham said: “Banning plastic cotton buds would be a clear sign of our ambition to address marine plastics and demonstrate further leadership on this issue. Despite various campaigns, people are continuing to flush litter down their toilets. This has to stop.

“Scotland’s sewerage infrastructure collects and treats some 945 million litres of wastewater each day. These systems are not designed to remove small plastic items such as plastic buds, which can kill marine animals and birds that swallow them.

“These products are completely unnecessary as biodegradable alternatives are readily available. The need for action is clear and I would encourage everyone with an interest in safeguarding our natural environment to take part in the consultation when it opens.”

The proposal will go to public consultation before the Scottish parliament can introduce legislation to ban plastic stems.

The stems consistently appear in the top ten types of beach litter in surveys by the Marine Conservation Society.

The Great British Beach Clean Up 2017 organised by the Society in September found a worrying 26 cotton buds per 100m of beaches. This figure has almost tripled since 2012, when the average was just 11 per 100m.