Single-Use Coffee Cups Banned in Scottish Government Buildings
Scotland's Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham confirmed that single-use coffee cups will be banned from canteens in government buildings starting June 4.
Although the disposable cups are mostly made of paper, the vast majority have an inner plastic lining that most recycling facilities are unable to separate and process.
"By removing single use coffee cups from our main buildings, we will prevent 450,000 cups from being thrown away every year," she noted. "That's enough cups to cover the distance between Edinburgh and Dundee."
The ban will apply to all hot drinks purchased from restaurants and cafes in government buildings, including St. Andrew's House, Saughton House, Victoria Quay, Atlantic Quay, Marine Lab and Buchanan House. The to-go cups will be replaced with reusable ceramic mugs.
Government staff, which first learned about the changes in May, will also be encouraged to bring in their own mugs.
.@ScotGov leading by example - removing #singleuse coffee cups from our main buildings - preventing 450k cups from… https://t.co/NyBBR7tPLI— Leslie Evans (@Leslie Evans)1527667683.0
Europe is taking aggressive steps to stem the flow of plastic pollution. On Monday, the European Commission proposed banning the 10 most common single-use plastic products as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear. The European Union's executive arm targeted the products that are most often found on the continent's beaches and seas, which together account for 70 percent of its marine litter.
"We support the EU's vision to reduce single use plastics as far as possible and ensure any single use plastics are easily recyclable by 2030," Cunningham continued in her statement to BBC News.
"We are currently considering what other single-use items can be reduced and removed from Scottish government buildings later this year."
Scotland has emerged as a leader in a range of environmental issues. Last year, a stunning 68.1 percent of the nation's electricity came from renewable energy, up 26 percent from 2016.
Last week, the Scottish government introduced a new Climate Change Bill to parliament that will make the country's existing climate legislation even tougher. The legislation sets a new 90 percent emissions reduction target for 2050, an increase on the current 80 percent level set by the UK-wide Climate Change Act in 2008.
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Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab says he believes Tuesday's explosion in Beirut could have been caused by large quantities of ammonium nitrate stored in the port.
What Is Ammonium Nitrate?<p>Ammonium nitrate is a white crystalline salt that can be fairly cheaply produced from ammonia and nitric acid. It is soluble and often used as fertilizer, as nitrogen is needed for healthy plant development.</p><p>Ammonium nitrate in its pure form is not dangerous. It is, however, heat sensitive. At 32.2 degrees Celsius (89.96 degrees Fahrenheit), ammonium nitrate changes its atomic structure, which in turn changes its chemical properties.</p><p>When large quantities of ammonium nitrate are stored in one place, heat is generated. If the amount is sufficiently vast, it can cause the chemical to ignite. Once a temperature of 170 C is reached, ammonium nitrate starts breaking down, emitting nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas. Any sudden ignition causes ammonium nitrate to decompose directly into water, nitrogen and oxygen, which explains the enormous explosive power of the salt.</p>
Deadly Disasters<p>As ammonium nitrate is a highly explosive chemical, many countries strictly regulate its use. Over the past 100 years, there have been several disasters involving the chemical.</p><p>In 1921, for example, a massive blast occurred at a BASF chemical plant in Ludwigshafen in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. About 400 metric tons of a mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate exploded, killing 559 people and injuring 1,977. The plant was largely destroyed in the blast, which could be heard as far away as Munich, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) distant.</p><p>In 2015, explosions caused by ammonium nitrate ripped through the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/china-convicts-dozens-for-last-years-giant-explosions-in-tianjin/a-36324321" target="_blank">Chinese port city of Tianjin</a>. Eight hundred metric tons of the chemical were said to have been stored along with other substances in a warehouse for hazardous materials. The blasts killed 173 people and destroyed an entire city district.</p><p>Two years earlier, in 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company site in Texas, killing 14 people. And in 2001, 31 people died in Toulouse, France, in an explosion caused by the chemical.</p>
Terrorist Favorite<p>In Germany, the purchase and use of ammonium nitrate is regulated by the explosives act. This is because the cheap, highly explosive and relatively easily obtainable material has in the past been used by terrorists to carry out attacks.</p><p>For example, in 1995, U.S. conspiracy theorist and gun enthusiast Timothy McVeigh used a mixture of ammonium nitrate and other substances to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik also used ammonium nitrate in a car bomb attack in Oslo in 2011.</p>
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