Plans by circular economy minister Lorna Slater for a charge on single use coffee cups will be opposed by business organisations, MSPs are being told.

Tourism trade body, the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), revealed its concerns over proposed legislation for the levy in a submission to Holyrood's economy and fair work committee, which is expected to discuss the proposals tomorrow.

The Scottish Government wants to do more to cut down on waste, and set out what is being called the "latte tax" in its "Circular Economy and Waste Route Map to 2030" consultation document, published last week.

The plan has some echoes of the ill-fated deposit return scheme, which was also designed to cut down on waste. It met with considerable opposition from business groups, including retailers and the hospitality industry, before being shelved.

Ministers in Scotland blamed the UK Government for not granting an exemption from the Internal Market Act to allow the scheme north of the border to contain glass which would not be included in a scheme planned for England.

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In its submission to the economy committee, the STA warns that the new levy for disposable drinks' cups would hit small drinks' suppliers who have already been badly affected by increased costs and a down turn in customers due to the cost of living crisis.

It said it opposes any new legislation to require suppliers to add such a charge to takeaway drinks not in reusable containers.

"The STA welcomes the creation of a circular economy strategy, but does not believe there
is the need to introduce a statutory requirement to deliver it," the STA said in its submission.

"The STA does not support the introduction of new regulations that would give Scottish ministers the power to legally require suppliers of goods to apply charges to single-use items, including single-use beverage cups. 

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"Unfortunately, this would be viewed as another burden on business, despite the efforts of many to support the net zero and circular economy agendas."

The document added: "A major campaign and drive from the Scottish Government is instead needed to support businesses to make the changes necessary to introduce a new charge on single-use, with the tourism and hospitality sector having made significant strides over recent years since the ban on single-use plastics."

It added that along with the visitor levy, a tax being planned to allow councils to add a charge to hotel rooms and other tourist accommodation, should they wish, the levy on single use cups would "hit visitors' pockets".

The Herald: Circular economy minister and Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater.

It said: "Along with the visitor levy charge for visitors, a charge on single-use cups and other items will once again hit visitors’ pockets. It is impractical to expect tourists visiting Scotland to pack a reusable cup or other forms of reusable food storage items, especially international visitors flying to the country.

"It will also likely impact on those who attend events such as music concerts and festivals, winter markets, all-day conventions, conferences and other business events."

Marc Crothall, chief executive of Scottish Tourism Alliance, Leon Thompson, executive director, UKHospitality and Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, will give evidence to the committee tomorrow.

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UK Hospitality also criticised the plan for the charge on single use drinks cups in its submission to the committee.

It said: "Circular Economy Bill: "This is another piece of legislation, with limited detail, but that will clearly impact on our businesses. 

"A key aspect is the power for ministers to introduce a charge on single use items. The conversation has, so far, revolved around a charge on single use cups, hitting food-to-go businesses."

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The Scottish Government's document said a charge on single-use disposable cups in a bid to eradicate their use.

It said: "A charge or ban on unnecessary products provides a strong incentive to choose reusable alternatives, or to avoid certain products altogether."

Unveiling the consultation, Ms Slater said: "We have already made good progress across Scotland, significantly reducing the amount of waste we generate and landfill. But we need to go further if reusing and recycling goods is to become the default choice for households, businesses and the public sector."

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Announcing plans for a charge on single use cups back in 2022, Ms Slater said: “Single-use coffee cups are a classic example of the throwaway culture that we are taking action to tackle. 

“Lots of people already carry a reusable cup with them, but hundreds of millions of single-use cups are still being wasted every single year.

“Evidence shows that a small charge on single-use cups can be hugely effective in encouraging people to switch to a reusable alternative.

Kim Pratt of Friends of the Earth Scotland said last week the government's plan lacked sufficient urgency.

She said: "The Waste Route Map does not contain the required urgency or the systematic approach needed to reduce the way we use materials, risking another Scottish Government failure, just as it is failing to meet its 2025 recycling targets."