ENVIRONMENTALISTS have criticised Scottish business as a new survey shows half are not doing all they can to beat single-use plastic waste.

A survey co-commissioned by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy found 44% say their business has not carried out any of nine simple measures to cut single-use plastic waste in the past year.

That included replacing some or all single-use plastics, or encouraging staff and customers to use reusable alternatives, carrying out a business audit of use or selecting eco-friendly suppliers.

The YouGov survey of more than 70 senior decision makers in small and medium-sized businesses in Scotland found that despite an ongoing focus on the damage caused by single-use plastic litter and calls for businesses to do more there was "low levels of action across the board", with less than one in five replacing some or all of the single-use plastics staff use.

Just one in five say their firm has encouraged staff to use reusable alternatives and only 17% have replaced some or all of the single-use plastics staff use, according to the survey supported by water filter firm Brita UK.

READ MORE: Analysis: Alternatives to single-use plastics can be found in fight against marine pollution

Only one in 20 have used incentives to encourage customers to reduce their use of single-use plastics and just 7% have carried out an audit of the single-use plastics in their business.

The Herald:

Cotton bud plastic found on Gullane Beach, East Lothian

Allison Ogden-Newton, Keep Britain Tidy chief executive said: “This research makes for shocking reading but it is not simply about knocking businesses for inaction – it is about understanding the barriers they face and looking to work with them to offer the expertise, support and guidance that will help them transform for good.

“Keep Britain Tidy is a charity that is focused on developing solutions and, through these solutions, helping businesses tackle the problems of waste, including single-use plastic.

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“The public are willing to get out there and do something to clean up the plastic that they see around them – more than half a million volunteers gave their time during the Great British Spring Clean to do just that – and businesses must support the public by playing their part. There are some 5.7 million small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, accounting for 99% of all businesses – so we need them to take action alongside the household names.”

Andrew McRae, Federation of Small Businesses Scotland's policy chairman businesses he spoke to understood they needed to play their part in reducing waste and help the environment.

“As we consider more measures to prevent plastic waste and tackle climate change, policymakers need to work closely with smaller firms to come up with the right solutions," he said. "That means understanding that if you’ve got a much smaller headcount you’re unlikely to have dedicated specialists looking at these issues exclusively.”

“Smaller firms have fewer resources than their larger counterparts to make dramatic changes to the way that they operate. That’s why FSB has made representations to big businesses about helping their supply chains, and to government about supporting firms make changes.

The research suggested that one of the key obstacles to Scottish businesses taking action is an unwillingness to take a leadership role and be a first mover.

The Herald:

Only one in four believed that their business is responsible for encouraging its customers to reduce consumption of single-use plastics, while less than a fifth (16%) think their business has a duty to be a leader in their sector on this issue.

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Despite the fact that nearly three in four of the decision makers acknowledge that staff want to reduce their single-use plastic footprint, and more than half (58%) think their customers want this, internal and external action has been sluggish.

In the wake of the findings the survey report calls on companies to begin to pilot and independently monitor initiatives to reduce unnecessary plastics and encourage greater recycling, both in retail and the workplace.

It calls for ‘quick wins’ in terms of unnecessary single-use plastics including offering tap water to customers, ncentivising the use of reusable coffee cups and replacing plastic milk bottles with a glass bottle milk delivery service;.

Other suggestions include making use of refill schemes for cleaning products, eliminating single-use plastic cutlery and replacing with reusable alternatives; and removing plastic straws and all single-use carrier bags, encouraging customers to bring their own bags.

READ MORE: Row over plastic pollution in Loch Lomond

The Herald:

In Scotland, the research also found that:

• 45% of those surveyed say that their business has a responsibility for reducing its own direct use of single-use plastics but only 25% see their business as being responsible for encouraging its customers to act;

• Over a quarter (26%) believe that their business should play a role in encouraging staff to reduce their personal use of single-use plastic at home;

• Only 20% say that their business should be sharing best practice in terms of reducing use of single-use plastics with other businesses in their sector;

• Nearly half (47%) do not think their business has a responsibility to provide recycling facilities in the workplace and only one in three (32%) think they are responsible for encouraging customers to recycle;

• 45% of senior decision makers think that their business should be doing more to recycle the general waste they produce (excluding single-use plastic waste), but 48% think they are doing all they can;

• More than half (54%) say that their business is doing all it can to make any plastic that they cannot eliminate from their operations reusable, recyclable, compostable and/or made from recycled material;

• Concern for the impact on the environment is the most prominent driver for businesses reducing their single-use plastic waste, with 81% of SME senior decision makers saying their business was motivated by it; above reputation to customers (65%); cost savings (63%); and reputation of the business internally, for example to staff and stakeholders (62%).