Tackling single-use items: independent report

Report from the Expert Panel for Environmental Charging and Other Measures setting out principles that can be used to reduce the dependence on single-use items in society.

Annex B: About the Panel 

Chair: Dame Sue Bruce, served in Local Government for almost 40 years, finishing in 2015. Sue is now retired but has a number of roles and positions.

Vice-Chair: Professor Dame Theresa Marteau, behavioural expert

Professor Liam Delaney, economist

Professor Margaret Bates, waste industry

Professor Aileen McHarg, legal expert

Professor Kate Sang, Disability and Equality expert

Gemma Stenhouse, Youth Leadership and 2050 Climate Group representative

Dr Ian Archer, biotech and chemical industry (from September 2019)

Mike Barry, Former Director of Sustainable Business at Marks and Spencer

Roger Kilburn, biotech and chemical industry (until June 2019)

The Panel’s Approach

The Expert Panel agreed a set of guiding Principles to underpin its way of working; and to provide a reference point to guide and inform its consideration of key issues and assessment of potential options and recommendations. These Principles were:

  • Outcomes focused and evidence informed: Focus on the difference that measures can make to address Scotland’s throwaway culture. Base recommendations on best available evidence on key issues and impact of different options, and consider unintended consequences of measures.
  • Targeting: Prioritise preventing single-use materials being used, before looking at reuse, recycle and recovery options. Take into account the different lifecycle impacts of specific materials. Consider how measures add up and impact groups differently.
  • Proportionality: Only propose additional measures when necessary. Solutions should be proportionate to the problem and the potential costs of implementation. Consider all options for achieving objectives, prescriptive actions as well as educational measures.
  • Transparency, integrity and accountability: Explain clearly how and why recommendations are made. Be open to public scrutiny and publish summaries of discussions. Clear line of accountability to Scottish Ministers, and regularly review and Report on progress.
  • Consistency, coherence and context: Consider whether existing policy measures work together in a joined-up way. Identify opportunities to strengthen co-ordination and coherence to maximise impact. Take account of the wider context.

The Panel’s Work

Over the two years since the Panel was established they have grappled with the complex issues that define the aspects of the throwaway culture and, as tasked by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, with a remit to examine how to reduce demand for single-use items. Importantly they were also looking to advise on the use of charges, similar to the successful single-use carrier bag charge, with the goal of encouraging long-term and sustainable changes in consumer behaviour.

Following a focussed piece of work on single-use disposable beverage cups, which included considering evidence developed by the University of Cardiff and evidence from the Scottish Government’s own removal of single-use cups in its main buildings, the Panel produced a Report on Single-use Beverage Cups, which was presented to the Cabinet Secretary in July 2019. The Report was welcomed by the Cabinet Secretary and activities are underway to respond to the recommendations in the Report. Many of these have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but will be revisited when it is appropriate to do so. 

In July 2019, after the publication of its first Report, Report of the Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures:

Recommendations on Single-use Disposable Beverage Cups, the Panel considered their options for their final year. They recognised that it would not be sensible, or practical, to focus on items one by one. There are too many and, as we have recently seen, new unexpected single-use items become prevalent all the time, for example face covering and gloves are now a common single-use items which would never have been expected 12 months ago when the Panel began this second phase of work. 

The Panel decided to turn its attention to developing a tool that could be used to consider single-use items and spent the remainder of their time developing these Principles as a source of guidance and assistance to policy makers and organisations that want to consider reducing their dependence on single-use items. 

The Panel’s Output 

The Panel has produced a number of documents, as detailed below:

  • Recommendations on Single-use Disposable Beverage Cups 
  • Knowledge Account on single-use disposable beverage cups.
  • Rapid review of charging for disposable coffee cups and other waste minimisation measure: Full literature review (University of Cardiff, 2019). 
  • Case Study of Scottish Government ban of single-use disposable cups

More information on the Panel and its work is available on its webpages:



Email: EPECOM@gov.scot

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