Single-use plastics could be banned in Scotland by end of next decade
Throwaway plastics would be banned in Scotland by 2030 under Scottish Government plans to tackle pollution.
It follows a European Commission announcement last week that all plastic packaging across Europe will be recyclable or reusable by the end of the next decade - a commitment which would not apply to the UK after Brexit.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham told the Sunday Herald she has asked civil servants to look at restricting the sale and manufacture of all non-recyclable plastics "on an item-by-item basis".
She told the newspaper: "The EU has been bold by making that statement and obviously they've yet to legislate for that so there's a process that they will go through which will involve member states. Sadly, of course, if Brexit goes through, it won't involve the United Kingdom.
"I would very much want to support the EU's position. We will, in Scotland, continue to match the best possible ambition that there is, and particularly match what Brussels is doing."
Unveiled last week, the first Europe-wide strategy on plastics includes proposals to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics and restrict the intentional use of microplastics, such as tiny beads put into cosmetics.
And it includes measures to boost recycling and cut marine plastics litter, including fishing gear.
Revealing the plans, the European Commission said it would help tackle plastic pollution, as well as create jobs, boost innovation and cut carbon emissions.
The move, welcomed by environmental campaigners, comes amid growing concern over plastic pollution in the world's oceans, where it can harm and kill wildlife such as turtles and seabirds.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years as part of the Government's environmental strategy, with calls for supermarkets to introduce "plastic-free" aisles.
The Scottish Government recently announced its intention to ban the sale of plastic stemmed cotton buds.
Ms Cunningham urged the UK Government to match the 2030 commitment.
She said some powers to help tackle the issue are reserved to Westminster.
"We would be either wanting the UK Government to concede that we could have these powers to go ahead or, alternatively, for the UK Government to sign up to the same ambition and vision so that we are all able to move forward as fast as possible on this," she old the Sunday Herald.
Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "This is excellent news, the Scottish Government is making great strides with this strong signal of intent to stop plastic waste at source.
"The plastic bag charge has worked very well, the new ban on plastic cotton buds is a bold move and the forthcoming deposit and return scheme will make a big difference to recycling rates for bottles and cans.
"The new commitment to be part of the European phase out of single use plastics by 2030, Brexit or no Brexit, is the strongest possible statement that we are serious about getting rid of plastic."