Publication - Consultation paper

Single-use plastic items - market restrictions: consultation

This consultation proposes the introduction of market restrictions – effectively a ban – on the single-use plastic items included in Article 5 of the EU Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (2019/904).

25 page PDF

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25 page PDF

720.7 kB

Single-use plastic items - market restrictions: consultation
Annex A : Implementing the Remaining Articles of the SUP Directive

25 page PDF

720.7 kB

Annex A : Implementing the Remaining Articles of the SUP Directive

In addition to restricting items placed on the market where alternatives are readily available, the SUP Directive introduces a range of other measures that contribute towards making a more circular lifecycle for plastics which has re-use, repair and recycling at its core. We fully support these ambitions and intend to build upon them, not only tackling single-use plastics but reducing single-use consumption as a whole. The work of the Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures (EPECOM) has laid the foundations for our future approach and complements the initial requirements of the SUP Directive and its overall direction.

Achieving this shift will require collaboration and coordination across the value chain including amongst those designing, procuring and ultimately using these items. We also recognise that any alternative approach to single-use must not disproportionately impact any individual groups or individuals in Scottish society. Engaging with stakeholders as policy develops is critical to ensure views are heard and solutions developed which fulfil our commitments whilst balancing the needs of individuals and business.

The Scottish Government is committed to implementing the SUP Directive. The requirements of the other Articles are set out below together with existing actions and next steps that will help create a more circular plastics economy in Scotland.

Consumption reduction – Article 4

To achieve an ambitious and sustained reduction in the consumption of beverage cups and on-the-go food containers by 2026. This reduction should be measurable, quantitative and based on 2022 consumption levels.

The Scottish Government's ambition on single-use disposable beverage cups is to have a sustainable model of consumption by 2025, which includes the majority of beverages in Scotland being sold in reusable cups[21].

Following the work of EPECOM, the Scottish Government has already consulted[22] on the introduction of charges for the provision of items, such as single-use disposable items, that are harmful to the environment and that can be replaced with sustainable alternatives. We intend to initially prioritise the introduction of charges for single-use beverage cups and will establish a working group in 2021 to support the design of the charge, including arrangements for monitoring its effectiveness.

In light of feedback from the previous consultation, we will also consider how best to reduce consumption of on-the-go food containers in due course.

The Expert Panel concluded that no one measure alone will be effective and so our approach to reducing single-use disposable cups must take the form of a joined-up response across government, business, communities and individuals. As indicated in the Panel's report[23], should a charge alone be insufficient to reduce consumption, the practicalities and viability of other measures will be given further consideration to see if they will drive the changes we wish to see.

Product design requirements – Article 6

By 2024 to ensure that plastic caps and lids remain attached to plastic beverage containers, such as bottles, when product is disposed of.

The Scottish Government continues to consider how best to implement this requirement and will progress discussions, including with the other UK administrations, in the coming months regarding our plans.

Any further action Ministers take will build on the work already underway in Scotland to implement a deposit return scheme for single-use drinks containers. In countries where similar DRS schemes are well established, estimates show at least 90% of collected bottles are returned with their caps[24]. We therefore believe that when Scotland's DRS scheme is introduced in July 2022, a similar pattern would be seen for the caps of PET bottles in Scotland.

PET beverage bottles to contain at least 25% recycled plastic by 2025; and all beverage bottles to contain at least 30% recycled plastic from 2030.

The UK Government has recently concluded a consultation on a UK-wide tax on plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content. The aim of the tax is to provide a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled material in the production of plastic packaging. This may in turn create greater demand for this material, stimulating increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste, diverting it away from landfill or incineration.

This tax would apply to all plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. It is intended the tax would take effect from 2022. Further details of the proposed tax can be found on the UK Government website[25].

As a UK Plastics Pact member, we have committed to achieving an average recycled content target of 50% for PET bottles by the end of 2025[26]. This commitment provides the Scottish Government with confidence that industry and other members are prepared to achieve, and indeed exceed, the requirements of the SUP Directive. We welcome and support this target for recycled content.

Marking requirements – Article 7

Sanitary towels, tampons and tampon applicators, wet wipes, tobacco products with filters and cups for beverages that contain plastic to have conspicuous, clear and indelible marking on the packaging or product itself to inform customers of appropriate waste management options or disposal methods that should be avoided; and the presence of plastics in the product and the negative impact littering or inappropriate disposal can have on the environment.

The Scottish Government continues to consider how best to implement this requirement and will progress discussions, including with the other UK administrations, in the coming months regarding our plans

In considering this issue, we are mindful of the potential role that extended producer responsibility schemes can play in achieving at least some of the outcomes sought under Article 7 of the Directive. As an example, we anticipate that the forthcoming extended producer responsibility scheme for packaging will require producers to provide advice to consumers on the disposal of disposable beverage cups, including those made partly or wholly of plastic.

Extended Producer Responsibility – Article 8

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes to be established for the following single-use plastic products so producers are responsible for the costs of awareness raising measures and the costs of cleaning up litter. For some products producers would also be responsible for the costs of waste collection or the costs of data gathering and reporting.

The products included are on-the-go food containers, packets and wrappers containing food for immediate consumption, beverage containers, cups for beverages, lightweight plastic carrier bags, wet wipes, balloons, tobacco products with filters and fishing gear.

The Scottish Government introduced a 5p levy on all carrier bags, including light weight plastic bags, in October 2014. This is estimated to have reduced single-use carrier bag use by 80% within a year of introduction[27]. To continue to motivate behaviour change and further reduce the use of single use carrier bags, we intend to increase that charge to 10p using existing secondary legislation at the earliest opportunity. The intent of this existing policy is to reduce litter, recognising that carrier bags have a disproportionate impact on wildlife, notably in the marine environment. This is aligned with the SUP Directive's overarching ambition to reduce litter.

The Scottish Government is working jointly with the UK, Welsh and Northern Irish governments to develop a new UK-wide extended producer responsibility scheme for packaging. This will make producers liable for the full cost of dealing with packaging waste while stimulating investment in collection, sorting and reprocessing. The existing system of producer responsibility for packaging[28] has been in place since 1997 and stakeholders have expressed concern about a number of elements of the system. Detailed proposals for the revised scheme will be consulted on in 2021 and would cover on-the-go food containers, packets and wrappers, beverage containers and cups for beverages.

In our Circular Economy Strategy, Making Things Last, the Scottish Government identified Extended Producer Responsibility as a policy intervention which could drive innovation and greater circularity for certain products, by influencing product design as well as increasing reuse and recycling.

Greater circularity will deliver on the Scottish Government's commitments to lead in addressing the global environmental crises we all face, including marine plastic pollution but also climate change and biodiversity loss. In developing new Extended Producer Responsibility requirements, we will consider product impacts holistically and work with producers to launch schemes which promote products that support a more circular economy.

The Scottish Government recognises that our fishing fleets currently have limited choices for end of life gear disposal. EPR could support improvements in waste management for both fishing and aquaculture gear, growing our circular economy. We have therefore started work to better understand gear volumes, supply chains and current disposal options with a view to developing potential EPR scheme design options with industry.

Separate collection of beverage bottles – Article 9

77% of plastic beverage bottles (up to 3 litres) including their caps and lids to be collected separately by 2025, with 90% collected separately by 2029.

A deposit return scheme for drinks containers, including PET plastic bottles will be available across Scotland from 1 July 2022. The scheme has a legislative requirement for producers to collect a minimum of 90% of in-scope containers by the third full year of operation. All drinks bottles and cans that come in PET plastic, metal or glass, from 50ml to three litres will be included in the scheme.

Other plastic bottles, such as HDPE, and other drinks containers, such as cartons are not currently included within the DRS scheme. These will however be subject to the revised EPR scheme for packaging, mentioned in the section above. We would anticipate that collection and recycling rates of these items would improve as a result.

Scottish Ministers must, before 1 October 2026, carry out a review of Scotland's DRS scheme and lay a report before the Scottish Parliament. The review must, among other things, consider the materials included within the scheme. At this stage HDPE drinks bottles and drinks cartons will be considered for inclusion within the scheme. The extent to which the combination of the currently proposed DRS and EPR schemes is satisfying the requirements of the SUP Directive will inform that consideration.

The Scottish Government also recognises the need to prioritise reuse within the circular economy to ensure the goods we manufacture remain within the economy for a longer period of time. This will reduce the materials we consume and so the carbon and other environmental impacts Scotland is responsible for. We therefore propose to explore how Scotland can align with the SUP Directive's ambition to promote circular approaches that give priority to sustainable and non-toxic reusable products and reuse systems, rather than to single-use products, aiming first and foremost to reduce the quantity of waste generated.

Awareness raising – Article 10

For the items listed below, incentivise responsible consumer behaviour to reduce litter, and inform consumers about the availability of reusable alternatives, reuse systems and waste management options, the impact of littering and other inappropriate disposal on the environment and the sewer network.

Items to include: on-the-go food containers, packets and wrappers intended for immediate consumption, beverage containers, cups for beverages, tobacco products with filters, wet wipes, balloons, lightweight plastic carrier bags and sanitary towels, tampons and tampon applicators.

Raising consumer awareness of the impact that plastic litter and inappropriate disposal of plastic products can have on the environment is critical. Furthermore, as leaders in the circular economy, we recognise the need to reduce demand for all single-use items, promote reusable alternatives and reuse systems, and reduce pressure on our natural resources.

However, we consider awareness campaigns to be complementary measures which are employed in conjunction with other regulatory and voluntary interventions.

Where we introduce EPR requirements for certain items, we will require identified producers to carry out sustained communications that can fulfil the requirements of this Article. Furthermore, the package of other interventions described above will provide many opportunities for the Scottish Government to raise awareness about single-use items.

While this consultation focuses on market restrictions, we also hope it will raise awareness of the wider issues of reuse, resource consumption and how we progress to a circular economy.

Designing policy to tackle single-use items is complex, with many factors to consider and trade-offs involved. Over the coming years, we will engage and listen to a wide range of stakeholders, drawing upon the principles set out by EPECOM[29] to develop and shape the measures identified to protect Scotland's environment and create a circular economy in a way which is fair and inclusive. We will use the opportunities presented during this process to raise awareness more broadly with consumers in Scotland.

Reporting and reviewing – Articles 13 and 15

The European Commission will carry out an evaluation of the SUP Directive by July 2027 based on information reported by EU member states each calendar year.

The Scottish Government recognises the value of reporting and reviewing identified by the European Commission, including the importance of understanding the effectiveness and impacts, such as material changes, of the measures proposed. We intend to track, report and review the impacts of our measures and monitor developments internationally to ensure the sharing of best practice.

A new governance body, Environmental Standards Scotland, is proposed in the Continuity Bill to replace the system of environmental governance provided by the institutions of the European Union which will be lost at the end of transition. The proposed new body will be responsible for making sure that public authorities in Scotland correctly apply environmental law, and that environmental law in Scotland is effective in protecting nature and our wellbeing.