Plastic Free Scotland joins the Scottish Food Coalition

We’re pleased to announce we have joined the Scottish Food Coalition.

The Scottish Food Coalition was launched to transform the entire food system in Scotland working collectively for food justice. It wants to see action on food poverty, public health, climate change, and animal welfare to name but a few.

The coalition is made up members from all different sectors including organisations like Soil Association Scotland, OneKind, Obesity Action Scotland, Common Weal and RSPB, with support from Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Food Ethics Council.

In April, we responded to our first Scottish Government consultation on the Government’s plans for a Good Food Nation. We believe a Good Food Nation Bill should be a robust framework legislation which addresses the entire food system and we believe it must include a strong commitment to tackle plastic pollution before we do irreversible damage to our environment.
Read our full response below.

Q1. To what extent do you agree with the framework proposals for Ministers and public authorities to prepare statements of policy, have regard to them in the exercise of relevant functions, and report on implementation, with regard to international obligations and guidance?

Plastic Free Scotland agrees with the framework proposal for Ministers and public authorities to prepare statements of policy and report on implementation. It is good that the Scottish Government wants to take action to support the right to food, but from our perspective it is vital that Ministerial and public authority statements cover the environmental impact of plastic used in the food system from production down to supermarket shelves.

In 2014, the Government published Becoming a Good Food Nation, which included an inspiring vision for the future of Scotland’s food. The vision stated that by 2025 the environmental impact of our food consumption both locally and world wide would have begun to decline, yet there was no mention of the world plastic in the entire document despite the growth of plastic pollution.

We believe it is critical that the Scottish Government not only recognises that plastic in our food system is having a detrimental impact on the climate but also that measurable indicators are needed in order to deliver robust action on plastic.

It’s also important that the Government hears from different groups and individuals when making their plans including those in the food sector both using plastic and trying to reduce it, as well members of the public. We understand that this is a very complex issue and that’s why we believe as many different voices as possible need to be heard.

2. Whilst we do not plan to require all sectors to prepare statements of policy on food, they do all have a role to play in achieving our Good Food Nation ambition. To what extent do you agree that Government should encourage and enable businesses in particular to play their part?

Plastic Free Scotland strongly agrees that the Scottish Government should encourage and enable businesses to play their part in making Scotland a Good Food Nation. For example, they can offer financial support, incentives and practical solutions to businesses that want to reduce both their own and their customers plastic consumption.

The Good Food Nation Bill is an opportunity for Scotland to become a world leader in many different aspects of food production and Plastic Free Scotland believes there is huge potential to lead the way when it comes to tackling single-use plastics. We have already seen the impact that changes in the law can have on the environment. For example, the 5p plastic carrier bag charge which was introduced in 2014 has significantly reduced the uptake in plastic carrier bags. If similar laws were applied to other forms of plastic in the food industry such as takeaway cutlery, produce bags, and disposable drinking cups then it would also have a significant benefit to the environment.

In the past six months, several small, independent bulk buy shops have opened across Scotland in a bid to encourage people to cut down on the amount of plastic they use by selling package free produce and alternatives to plastic products. We would like to see the Scottish Government offer support and advice to other small businesses who want to do something similar as well as financial help to make it possible.

3. To what extent do you agree with the proposed approach to accountability of Scottish Ministers and specified public authorities

Plastic Free Scotland strongly disagrees with the proposed approach of accountability. The food system is very complicated and is made up of many different parts of the Government as well as businesses and individuals. Therefore, Plastic Free Scotland believes that an independent statutory body such as an Independent Food Commission should be established to question the Government’s plans, provide guidance, gather evidence and report on how the Government is doing. The Commission would enable a range of experts in relevant areas, including environment, climate change and plastic waste can ensure that the Scottish Government is held accountable. Given how complicated the food system is, we do not believe that the Scottish Parliament is an effective enough process is we want to achieve the ambitious Good Food Nation that Scotland deserves.

4. To what extent do you agree with the proposal for targeted legislation relevant to specific policy areas as an alternative to a single piece of legislation?

Plastic Free Scotland believes that a Good Food Nation Bill should be a robust framework legislation as opposed to the proposal for targeted legislation relevant to specific policy areas. In order to achieve a Good Food Nation, we need a robust framework legislation which addresses the issues across the entire food system which we believe must include a strong commitment to tackle plastic pollution before we do irreversible damage to our environment.

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