Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021: equality impact assessment - final

We published a partial equality impact assessment during the public consultation on the introduction of market restrictions on problematic single-use items in Scotland, which took place between 12/10/202 and 04/01/2021. This EQIA expands that work with additional research, data, and evidence.

Stage 1: Framing

Work undertaken for the final EQIA

This document builds on the partial EQIA, mainly through reporting the findings of further targetted engagement with equality groups and individuals in a position to comment on impacts related to disability or age. Straws were identified as having considerable potential to impact on these protected characteristic groups in the partial EQIA and were therefore the main focus of the engagement. Due to the specific nature of the potential impacts on users and the potential sensitivities associated with this, the strategy involved direct engagement with individuals (facilitated through representative organisations).

In addition to gathering evidence on the impacts of the market restriction of single-use plastic straws, the engagement sought to collect views on approaches to the exemption as a mitigation measure. The consultation questions also invited suggestions on how the exemption could be designed in order to ensure inclusivity and accessibility in its design.

The work undertaken for this final EQIA includes:

  • 13 one-to-one interviews with disabled people that use straws (including three people over 60 years old).
  • An online survey shared by 23 organisations, which received 24 responses from:
    • Individuals with protected characteristics or family members responding on their behalf.
    • Representatives from disabled people's organisations and organisations which aim to represent disabled people.
    • Individuals with other health issues.
  • A workshop with members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (aged 17 – 18 years old).
  • A review of the responses to relevant questions posed in the Scottish Government's public consultation.

A full list of organisations contacted as part of the EQIA-specific engagement (workshops, interviews and survey work) is included in Appendix A.

Summary reflection

A restriction on the availability of the specified single-use plastic products may impact on some people with protected characteristics more than others. Initial analysis undertaken for the partial EQIA highlighted that a market restriction on straws could have a more significant impact on disabled people, the very old and the very young. These impacts were further investigated in order to complete the final EQIA, with the following key findings:

  • A restriction on straws, or change in how they are accessed, has the potential to impact on disabled people in a variety of ways, including:
    • Currently single-use plastic straws fulfil a range of functions which other types of straws cannot cover. Restriction could restrict certain functions which are essential for some users to facilitate drinking and eating.
    • Loss of independence associated with reduced availability of straws as hospitality environments become less inclusive and accessible to individuals who require straws.
    • Stigmatisation and unnecessary medicalisation attached to potential routes to accessing straws under an exemption.
  • The impacts on the very old and very young in relation to the use of straws, are largely related to where other impairments are also experienced rather than age alone, leading to a cumulative impact.
  • The restriction on balloon sticks would impact the very young disproportionately. However, this is not considered to be a significant concern as it seems likely an reduced enjoyment would be marginal and there is no disadvantage associated with the item purpose.
  • A positive impact on young people may be anticipated as they are more likely to experience negative feelings about their neighbourhoods due to littering.

For the identified single-use plastic items other than straws, equality-related issues were not identified.


Email: supd@gov.scot

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