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 4: Decision making and monitoring (Identifying and establishing any required mitigation action)

Have positive or negative impacts been identified for any of the equality groups?

Negative impacts have been identified related to disability, and potentially age when coupled with disability. However the policy includes specific exemptions around single-use plastic straws, recognising that they perform a vital function which cannot be easily replaced with a more sustainable alternative or provide crucial quality of life enhancing functions for disabled people. Therefore access to these straws will be restricted to certain types of premises. Catering establishments and retail pharmacy businesses supplying single-use plastic straws will make them available on request only, and will comply with requirements to store out of sight.

There are also exemptions for use for medical purposes and, medical devices, for packaging, and where straws are used as part of a support service.

Possible positive impacts have been identified for age (younger people and reduced littering).

Is the policy directly or indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010?[17]

There is no evidence that the policy is directly or indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010.

If the policy is indirectly discriminatory, how is it justified under the relevant legislation?


If not justified, what mitigating action will be undertaken?


Describing how this final equality impact analysis has shaped the policy-making process

The partial EQIA informed the structure and narrative of the consultation as well as the development of specific consultation questions on the issues it had raised, particularly in relation to single-use plastic straws. The engagement as part of the final EQIA has supported the design of the exemptions for straws in the Regulations. Indeed, acknowledging that single-use plastic straws perform a vital and life-enhancing function for disabled people and cannot be easily replaced with a more sustainable alternative, the Regulations allow hospitality to stock single-use plastic straws for that purpose, as well as pharmacies to stock them for the purpose of retail sale, whilst avoiding medicalisation or stigmatisation.

To support the implementation of the exemption, the Scottish Government is actively collaborating with a small group of straw users and disability representatives, and is involving representatives of this group in the development of a guidance document to accompany the Regulations, as well as educational and communication materials raising awareness about the importance of maintaining access to single-use plastic straws for people who rely on them.

Monitoring and review

Implementation of the restrictions in general and of the single-use plastic straw exemptions should be reviewed in consultation with relevant organisations, to identify any indirect impacts on disabled people. There is also potential for behaviour change from the market or the general public, which should also be monitored.

In order to ensure the intended effect of the plastic straw exemption and the protection of their access for people who rely on them, key indicators could be monitored for instance the level of awareness from businesses of the reason for this exemption, of the purpose of staff training or of the use of specifically designed communication materials.


Email: supd@gov.scot

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