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Scottish Government appoints expert panel to tackle plastic pollution

A Scottish Government advisory group on tackling plastic pollution will consist of experts from the retail, waste and chemical sectors, the public sector and academia, it has been revealed on Friday (11 May).

The Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures is an advisory group being established to provide advice to Scottish Government Ministers on measures – such as disposable cups and plastic straws – that may be taken in Scotland with the goal of encouraging long-term and sustainable changes in consumer and producer behaviour in order to move towards a circular economy.Scottish Government appoints expert panel to tackle plastic pollution

Current Electoral Commissioner Dame Sue Bruce has been appointed as Chair. Joining her will be behavioural expert Professor Dame Theresa Marteau, economist Professor Liam Delaney, Mike Barry, the Director of Sustainable Business at Marks & Spencer, Roger Kilburn from the biotech and chemical industry, Professor Margaret Bates from the waste industry and Professor Aileen McHarg, who will bring legal expertise.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) Chief Executive Terry A'Hearn, Zero Waste Scotland Chief Executive Iain Gulland and Disability Adviser Professor Kate Sang will also sit on the group. A 2050 Climate Group representative will help provide a young person’s perspective.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Scotland has demonstrated leadership in tackling plastic pollution. We were the first country in the UK to commit to introducing a deposit return scheme and we are currently consulting on proposals to ban the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds, one of the items most commonly found on our beaches.

“But I want to go further, and the creation of our expert panel  is an important step towards seriously addressing this issue in Scotland. The panel’s expertise and skills from across waste, legal, retail and public sectors as well providing a voice for young people and disabled people, will help us identify the bold actions we can take in Scotland to encourage long-term, sustainable changes in consumer and producer behaviour.”

As Cunningham alludes to, the Scottish Government has been moving forwards in its efforts to tackle plastic pollution, proposing a ban on plastic cotton buds in January, and a ban on plastic drinking straws in February. 

Dame Sue Bruce commented on this step forwards for the Scottish Government: “I am very much looking forward to working with the Expert Panel in this important and fascinating work. Not one of us can have failed to be shocked by the coverage in recent months of the state of plastic pollution on our land and in our seas.

“While these might be global issues, action can be taken by all of us much closer to home.  The panel will be asking questions about what we can do together in Scotland - as consumers, communities, producers, retailers and government – to radically change our attitudes and our use of single-use items.”

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