NICOLA Sturgeon has criticised the UK Government for a lack of urgency on tackling the scourge of plastic pollution.

The First Minister hit out at the 2042 deadline set by Prime Minister Theresa May for the eradication of all avoidable plastic waste in the UK.

Ms Sturgeon said the issue was more urgent than Mrs May's 25-year timescale, but came under fire for her own government's actions.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie raised the issue at First Minister's Questions on the day the Scottish Government announced its intention to ban the sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

Mr Harvie said: "It's welcome to see both governments attempting to respond to the growing concern about plastic pollution.

"The UK might be accused of kicking the issue into the long grass by talking about what it might achieve by 2042.

"The Scottish Government wants to highlight the issue of cotton buds, which to be fair is a much easier area where change is already happening and alternative products are already in the shops."

Mr Harvie said the issue was "far more challenging and urgent" and argued that the responsibility should be placed "with the highly profitable businesses and industries which are the real source of the problem".

He urged Ms Sturgeon to tackle wider pollution caused by the petrochemicals industry.

The First Minister said: "I absolutely agree with Patrick Harvie that this is urgent and I think it's more urgent than the 25-year timescale that the Prime Minister has set out today."

She highlighted government action including the plastic bag levy, plans for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers and the expert group set up to look at other possible levies.

"We're taking a range of actions and I do think that's the right approach. It's not about letting any particular interest off the hook, it's about companies, it's about consumers and it's about governments," she said.

Ms Sturgeon said it was unfair to criticise the Scottish Government for a lack of support for renewable energy, adding: "If anything, we are a world leader in terms of the transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy."

In response to a question from SNP MSP Kate Forbes, who is spearheading a campaign to ban plastic straws, Ms Sturgeon later reiterated that "we do not have the luxury" of 25 years.

"Blue Planet may have woken up the UK Government to the issue of plastics in our seas but we have been alive to this issue for some time and have been leading the way in taking action," she said.