Publication - Impact assessment

Deposit return scheme for Scotland: equality impact assessment

Published: 16 Mar 2020
Environment and Forestry Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change

Potential equality impacts for Scotland's deposit return scheme and proposed mitigation.

14 page PDF

611.9 kB

14 page PDF

611.9 kB

Deposit return scheme for Scotland: equality impact assessment
Stage 4: Decision-making and monitoring

14 page PDF

611.9 kB

Stage 4: Decision-making and monitoring

The interim and full EQIAs explored the potential impacts of DRS on each of the protected characteristics. While noting that in principle the policy could have negative implications for certain protected groups, it was found that these risks could be addressed through careful implementation. A properly designed DRS should therefore have no negative impact on protected groups.

The full EQIA grouped the suggested actions to mitigate these risks under six headings and this section of the final EQIA sets out the action which has been, or will be, undertaken under each heading to ensure that DRS does not adversely impact those with protected characteristics.

DRS is a form of extended producer responsibility, meaning that it is the responsibility of the businesses that produce the drinks to recover and recycle the packaging. As a result of this, it is up to the drinks producers, or a Scheme Administrator acting on their behalf, to lead and deliver the implementation phase of DRS. This section therefore distinguishes between actions where the Scottish Government can address the potential risk through legislation and actions where the Scottish Government and/or Zero Waste Scotland can provide implementation support to the Scheme Administrator.

The Scottish Government is clear that it would expect any Scheme Administrator to comply with best practice and all applicable legislation in ensuring that the scheme is equally accessible to all. The detailed implementation decisions will be for the Scheme Administrator to take.

Actions to be addressed through legislation

Mitigating Action Status
Public Communication
The Regulations require that retailers must display the deposit separately to the price of the drink on their in-store price points. This will make it clearer to consumers that they are paying a refundable deposit. Complete
The Regulations have set the deposit at a standard 20p for all in-scope materials in order to avoid confusion and keep the DRS simple and easily understandable for consumers. Complete
Accessibility of Return Points
The Regulations specify a return-to-retail model, thereby making it as easy to return a drinks container as it is to buy one across the whole of Scotland. Complete
Except in the case of risks relating to food safety, health and safety, etc., the Regulations allow exemptions only when it will not affect consumers' access to a return point, thereby preventing any concession to accessibility. Complete
The Regulations require clear signage of an alternative return point where exemptions are granted, thereby making it clear where another nearby return point exists. Complete
The Regulations allow the operation of both manual and automatic return points and distance-sales takeback, thereby providing three different mechanisms of deposit return for those who may have a preference of return due to a protected characteristic. Complete
The Regulations allow the option for non-retail premises to act as voluntary return points, such as schools, charities or community owned sites. This regulatory stipulation will allow additional return points to be created where accessibility may otherwise have been limited. Complete
Participation of Those Who Use Online Grocery Retailers
The Regulations state that retailers selling by way of distance sales will be obligated to offer a takeback service to consumers. Complete
Achieving Regulatory Compliance
In 2017, over a quarter of adults (28%) reported a long-term physical or mental health condition. DRS infrastructure will need to cater for this proportion of the population in order to ensure compliance with regulatory targets (90% in steady state). This high rate of capture means that it is in the interests of the producers or Scheme Administrator(s) to make the scheme open and accessible to all members of the public in order to meet the targets set in the Regulations. Complete
The Equality Act 2010 prohibits certain discriminatory conduct. It contains a duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' in the way services are delivered to those with the protected characteristic of disability. Any Scheme Administrator of DRS, as well as return-point operators, will therefore be legally obligated to comply with this duty. Standards complete, implementation ongoing
British Standard BS 8300-1:2018 and BS 8300-2:2018: Guide To Designing Accessible and Inclusive Environments is available as a best practice guide for a Scheme Administrator and its members to design accessible and inclusive environments, how to approach inclusive design and how to adopt a strategic approach to access and inclusion in the design process. Standards complete, implementation ongoing

Actions to be addressed through implementation

Mitigating Action Status
Public Communication
Research has been carried out to segment the Scottish population into five key segments, with the purpose of identifying groups of the Scottish population with different characteristics, lifestyles and views regarding DRS. The segmentation was primarily based on survey data collected by Dynata from a sample of just over 2,000 Scottish adults. This data was coded with Experian Mosaic Types. The segments are:
  • Rural Families
  • Suburban Wealth
  • Golden Years
  • Less Advantaged
  • Progressive Urbanites
This will offer insight into suitable communication methodologies for each segment.
Qualitative, first-hand research (conducted via 1-1 interviews) with people with physical disabilities and their carers are ongoing, to understand views relating to the Deposit Return Scheme, and the most suitable communication channels to reach people with this protected characteristic. These findings will be utilised within Scottish Government DRS communications and will also be shared by Zero Waste Scotland with the future Scheme Administrator(s). Ongoing
Development of best-practice guidance is ongoing, in tandem with national representative bodies and organisations, to gather recommendations for communicating specifically with people with protected characteristics, e.g. large-print versions for those that need it, read-aloud or Braille options for those with visual impairments, or specification to websites. This is being conducted via a mixture of desk and field research as appropriate. This guidance will be utilised within Scottish Government DRS communications and will also be shared by Zero Waste Scotland with the future Scheme Administrator(s). Ongoing
Consumer testing on branding options is planned with a broad range of groups, ensuring inclusion and feedback from those with protected characteristics. Planned
Face-to-face meetings took place with equalities groups to better understand how to reach people with protected characteristics when the scheme is launched, e.g. the utilisation of a national network of Access Panels in Scotland or resources such as the 'Counting on a Greener Scotland' pack. Complete
Operation of Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs)
A recommended RVM specification will be created by Zero Waste Scotland and will be shared with the future Scheme Administrator(s) to list the key functionalities required to provide acceptable accessibility. That document will include details such as:
  • - in-store redeemable deposit voucher as a minimum method of return
  • - being equipped with a touchscreen that provides easily to understand consumer guidance during the return process
  • - ensuring that the required accessibility standards are met in respect of these facilities.
Examples of international best practice will be shared by Zero Waste Scotland with the Scheme Administrator(s), highlighting where physical modifications enable greater access to RVMs for people using a wheelchair or experiencing other disabilities such as visual or hearing impairments. Planned
The feedback obtained from equality groups with regards to RVM accessibility and usability will be shared by Zero Waste Scotland with the Scheme Administrator(s) and its members to help ensure RVMs are suitable for those with protected characteristics. The opportunity of future engagement with willing equality groups will also be promoted to the Scheme Administrator. This feedback will also be utilised in Scottish Government DRS communication activity. Planned
Participation of Those Who Use Local Authority Assisted Kerbside Collection Support Services
Focus groups and testing have commenced to develop a communication toolkit for use by all local authorities, to provide them with the resources to communicate DRS to all customers, including a focus on those with protected characteristics who may currently rely on assisted kerbside collections. Ongoing
Engagement with all local authority waste departments to raise awareness of DRS and the impact this will have to current services. Ongoing

How the Equality Impact Assessment has shaped the policy making process

The EQIA process has helped to identify and enforce the importance of accessibility throughout the design of the Deposit Return Scheme. Accessibility has been fully accounted for in the Regulations, primarily in reference to the 'return-to-retail' model and the inclusion of retailers selling by way of distance sales. This is in line with the requests from equality groups and has been central to the Scottish Government's ambition to make the scheme accessible to all.

The EQIA has also encouraged an ongoing consideration of equality throughout wider Deposit Return Scheme process activity, for example in the development of Scottish Government DRS communication materials and methods. Feedback received throughout the EQIA has been and will continue to be utilised to ensure that communication is suitable for all audiences.

Going beyond policy, all information gathered throughout the different stages of the EQIA will be passed to any Scheme Administrator(s) (and members) to ensure that the requests, insights, research and further offers of support will be incorporated into the implementation phase of Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme.

Monitoring and review

The key drivers for the DRS programme are the intended benefits, which are aligned with the Investment Objectives of the Full Business Case, as per the Strategic Case and the Economic Case. Delivery of these benefits will be monitored by the DRS Programme Board as part of its ongoing monitoring and evaluation work following passage of the final Regulations. The two key benefits identified as relating to equalities impacts are:

  • Ensure fairness for all demographic groups, e.g. ensure communication methods are inclusive and accessible to all.
  • Maximise accessibility to all demographic groups, e.g. ensure there is no need to access a private vehicle to redeem deposits.

As noted on p8, the Scottish Government has control over benefits where the primary mechanism to assign accountability or responsibility for delivery and measurement of benefits is the DRS Regulations. The Scottish Government will continue to provide support to the Scheme Administrator regarding delivery of 'non-regulatory' benefits.