SNP politician calls for plastic straw tax

A Scottish MSP is calling for a tax on plastic straws.

Kate Forbes says Scotland should investigate a “straw tax” similar to the one applied to plastic bags.

The SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch told The Sunday Times Scotland that, while an outright ban is the answer to combating the items’ environmental damage, a levy would go some way towards solving the problem.

“In the battle against plastic straws I certainly think that a disincentive, such as a levy, should be considered,” she said.

“The problem won’t go away on its own. We have already seen how a levy works on plastic bags and there’s been more attention recently on MPs’ call for a levy on plastic cups.”

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Anon woman drinking out of plastic straw.

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Ms Forbes added: “Retailers such as Starbucks have committed to trialling a levy on plastic cups in certain stores, so I can’t see why they couldn’t do the same with plastic straws.

“The vast majority of people don’t need and don’t want a plastic straw with their drink, but pubs and restaurants automatically give them one.

“Alternatives to plastic straws exist for those that need to use a straw so in the long run a levy will not disadvantage anybody and could be the fastest way to ban plastic straws.”

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Plastic straws

Image: It takes up to 500 years for a plastic straw to decompose

The Scottish Government is looking at options to reduce single-use plastic items like straws. It follows its decision last year to implement a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles to encourage their recycling.

Last week, Westminster’s Environmental Audit Committee called for a “latte levy” – a 25p surcharge on a disposable coffee cup.

The campaign to phase out the use of plastic straws has gained momentum around the world, prompting a review of their use, particularly in bars and restaurants.

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JD Wetherspoon and All Bar One are among the chains that no longer put a plastic straw in a drink automatically. From this month, Wetherspoon is using biodegradable paper straws to replace the plastic versions, which it claims will prevent up to 70 million plastic straws ending up in landfill or in the world’s oceans.

Environmental campaigners have welcomed the move, pointing out that a plastic straw takes up to 500 years to decompose.