Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill: equality impact assessment

Equality impact assessment (EQIA) examining the possible impacts of the Circular Economy bill provisions.

Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill Equality Impact Assessment


Policy Aim

In the 2021-2022 Programme for Government, the Scottish Government committed to bring forward a Circular Economy Bill, to help facilitate the development of an economy which reduces demand for raw materials, designs products to last as long as possible and encourages reuse, repair and recycling.

This Bill is a continuation of the Circular Economy Strategy 'Making Things Last' published in 2016,[1] alongside other policy work to embed the principles of a circular economy in Scotland and take action to make good use of our planet's finite resources.

The Circular Economy Bill should also be seen in the context of the 2020 Climate Change Plan update, which set out a vision for 2045 where Scotland's cultural, social, and business norms would be driven by a focus on:

  • Responsible production, where a circular economy is embraced by the businesses and organisations that supply products, ensuring the maximum life and value from the natural resources used to make them.
  • Responsible consumption, where people and businesses demand products and services in ways which respect the limits of our natural resources. Unnecessary waste, in particular food waste, will be unacceptable in Scotland.
  • Maximising value from waste and energy, where the environmental and economic value of wasted resources and energy is harnessed efficiently

The Circular Economy Bill will establish the legislative framework to support Scotland's transition to a zero waste and circular economy, significantly increase reuse and recycling rates, and modernise and improve waste and recycling services. Our intention is to use the Circular Economy Bill to bring forward measures that require primary legislation, recognising that these are complemented by the other legislative and non-legislative activities such as the ban on single-use plastic items, reform of producer responsibility schemes (particularly in relation to packaging), and investment in household recycling through the £70 million Recycling Improvement Fund.

The Bill will support progress towards the national outcomes for economy (we have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy) and environment (we value, enjoy, protect and enhance our environment).

In developing the provisions in this Bill, the Scottish Government is mindful of the three needs of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) - eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not, and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. Where any negative impacts have been identified, we have sought to mitigate/eliminate these. We are also mindful that the equality duty is not just about negating or mitigating negative impacts, as we also have a positive duty to promote equality.

Provisions within the Circular Economy Bill

The provisions within the Bill will be mainly enabling in nature, setting out a framework that builds on existing Scottish Government policy on preventing and managing waste and promoting a circular economy, including through materials reuse and recycling. It is intended to ensure that Scottish Government has the powers necessary to move Scotland towards a circular economy.

Circular economy strategy

Placing a duty on Scottish Ministers to publish or refresh a circular economy strategy at least every 5 years in order to direct national policy on the circular economy. 

Circular economy targets 

Developing statutory targets for the Scottish Ministers to provide a focus for action. 

Restrictions on the disposal of unsold consumer goods 

Providing powers to limit the disposal of unsold goods in order to reduce wasteful practice. 

Charges for single use items 

Creating a power to set a minimum charge for certain throwaway items in order to drive waste reduction and greater use of reusable items (the intention is for this initially to be applied to single-use Disposable beverage cups). 

Householder's Duty of Care in relation to waste 

Making it a criminal offence for a householder to breach their existing duties of care under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, in relation to fly-tipping and sorting of waste, and creating a new fixed penalty regimes to enforce these duties. 

Household waste 

Requiring local authorities to comply with a code of practice on recycling and giving local authorities a package of new responsibilities and powers, including powers to set recycling targets. 

Littering from vehicles 

Establishing a new civil penalty regime that will make the keeper of a vehicle liable to pay a penalty charge in respect of a littering offence committed from that vehicle. 

Enforcement powers in respect of certain environmental crimes  

Improving enforcement against fly-tipping and other waste crime through a power allowing the Scottish Environment Protection Agency ("SEPA") and local authorities to seize vehicles involved in specified waste crime. 

Reporting of waste, surpluses, etc. 

Obtaining information about where waste is occurring through a power to require information which would lead to public reporting of waste and surplus by businesses (the intention is for this initially to be applied to information about food).  

Who will it affect?

The Bill proposals consist of mainly enabling powers, which will not directly impact people or communities. However, there is the potential for proposals, and later secondary legislation that develops from the Bill, using these powers to affect everyone in Scotland (including individuals, businesses, public sector and third sector organisations).

In particular, the application of the following powers would have the potential to impact on individuals:

  • Littering from Vehicles: Fixed penalty notices being issued for the registered car owner in cases of littering from vehicles
  • Householders duty of care in relation to waste: Fixed penalty notices for breaching householders' duty of care in relation to waste which will be implemented by directly amending the Environmental Protection Act 1990
  • Enforcement powers in respect of certain environmental crimes: Seizure of vehicles involved in waste crime
  • Household waste: Strengthening recycling incentives or penalties for households via:
    • Enforcement or fines
  • Charges for single-use items: Charging for environmentally harmful items that can be replaced with sustainable alternatives or are problematic to recycle

This iteration of the EQIA reporting template, updated after the CE Bill Consultation[2] closed, takes into account comments received via the CE Bill and other consultation processes.[3] The following question was included in the CE Bill consultation with the specific intention of engaging with stakeholders on potential impacts regards equalities[4] and to provide them with the opportunity to identify any additional likely impacts. The initial CE Bill EQIA Results document was published alongside the CE Bill Consultation to allow those responding to review the document and determine if they felt any additional impacts were likely.

Taking into account the accompanying EQIA, are there any additional likely impacts the proposals contained in this consultation may have on particular groups of people, with reference to the 'protected characteristics' listed above?

Responses to the CE Bill consultation align well with the first iteration of the EQIA, with neither positive nor negative issues identified for protected characteristics groups from the introduction of primary legislation.

In addition to Age, Disability and Sex, Race was identified as a further Protected Characteristic Group that should be considered in future EQIAs that accompany secondary legislation development.

A number of responses were more relevant to the Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment (FDSA) in terms of poverty, housing type and access to vehicles. This feedback will be taken into account as the associated FSDA is updated.

Specifically, the EQIA assesses any impacts of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice against the needs relevant to a public authority's duty to meet the public sector equality duty.

The needs are to:

  • Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
  • Advance equality of opportunity; and
  • Foster good relations

What might prevent the desired outcomes being achieved?

Achieving the desired outcomes will be dependent on businesses and consumers adopting new behaviours effectively.

Consideration has been given as far as possible to potential impact based on the evidence gathered during this equality impact assessment process leading up to the public consultation.



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