Consumers in Scotland are purchasing more than 300,000t of single-use packaging for their groceries a year, according to a study by Zero Waste Scotland.

The research also noted that the consumers are paying an estimated total cost of £600m annually for single-use packaging. This cost lies hidden within the overall price of their groceries.

In addition, the study found that consumers are paying around £40m to local authorities to collect and manage all the single-use packaging.

Alongside this, companies are generating 650,000t of carbon emissions every year to produce such huge quantities of single-use packaging.

Zero Waste Scotland environmental policy advisor Michael Lenaghan said: “It’s easy to think of packaging as part of the product we want, rather than a product in its own right. In truth, when we buy 500ml of shampoo, we’re also buying a 500ml shampoo bottle, but the cost of that bottle is not evident.

“Packaging is not free. Add it all up, and the average consumer spends a lot on single-use packaging. And all this single-use packaging doesn’t just come with a cost for consumers, it also brings a significant cost to the environment.

“To be clear, the point of this is not to say that packaging is inherently bad, but that it is inherently a product, and like any other product, consumers can make more informed decisions about whether the service provided is worth the cost, if that cost is made clear upfront.”

Zero Waste Scotland also urged customers to be aware of hidden cost and the impact of single-use packaging on the environment.

The study also highlighted the potential benefits of alternative ‘packaging free’ stores that allow customers to bring their own containers to shop.