Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021: strategic environmental assessment - post adoption statement

A report on how we have taken environmental considerations, the Environmental Report and consultation findings into account when finalising the The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021.

1. Introduction to market restrictions on problematic single-use plastic items

1.1 The single-use plastics directive and market restrictions

1.1.1 The Scottish Government is introducing market restrictions to restrict the supply of eight single-use plastic items in Scotland, with the intended effect of reducing the volume and impact of plastic pollution within terrestrial and marine environments. The items in scope are amongst those most commonly found items on beaches throughout the European Union; a recent study[1] published by the Pew Charitable Trusts states that, without considerable action to address plastic pollution, the flow of plastic into the ocean is projected to nearly triple by 2040 (compared to 2016 levels), equivalent to 50kg of plastic entering the ocean for every metre of coastline worldwide. As ocean currents are not constrained by national boundaries, the measures being taken in Scotland will not only assist in reducing plastic pollution domestically but also mitigate Scotland's contribution to plastic pollution internationally.

1.1.2 The market restrictions will also stimulate a shift towards less harmful alternatives such as paper and cardboard products, which are readily available in the domestic marketplace. Demonstrating this more responsible choice of resources is a vital element in building a more sustainable, circular Scotland.

1.1.3 The market restrictions will implement the objectives of Article 5 of the European Union's Single-Use Plastics Directive, adopted by the European Parliament and European Council on 5 June 2019.[2] The Directive is hereafter referred to as the "SUP Directive".

1.1.4 The SUP Directive seeks to respond to the steady increase in plastic waste generation. The SUP Directive recognises that the growing use of short-lived and single-use plastics, which do not lend themselves to cost effective recycling, has led to a casual approach to their disposal and excessively wasteful consumption models. The prevalence of such products is directly linked to pollution of oceans, rivers, and land ecosystems, representing a significant global challenge.

1.1.5 The SUP Directive applies to identified single-use plastic products, including products made from oxo-degradable plastic and fishing gear containing plastic. The SUP Directive covers single-use plastic products that are fossil-based and bio-based, regardless of whether they are recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable. All products made from oxo-degradable plastic, and fishing gear containing plastic, are also within the scope of the SUP Directive. Single-use plastic products made of multi-layered or composite materials, such as plastic-coated paper or plastic-lined cartons, are also within scope.

1.1.6 The SUP Directive targets a set range of single-use plastic products including cutlery, plates, straws and beverage stirrers, among other items. The Scottish Government has reviewed the range of single-use plastics products within the SUP Directive to determine the items to be within the scope of Scotland's market restrictions.

1.1.7 The Scottish Government has considered the introduction of market restrictions for the following items:

  • Single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks).
  • Single-use plastic plates, bowls, trays and platters.
  • Single-use plastic straws.
  • Single-use plastic beverage stirrers.
  • Single-use plastic balloon sticks.
  • Single-use food containers made of expanded polystyrene.[3]
  • Single-use cups and other beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, including their caps, covers and lids.[4]
  • All oxo-degradable products.

1.1.8 Following on from stakeholder feedback from consultations, the Scottish Government has decided not to include bowls, trays and platters as well as plates within the restrictions. These products were found to be better suited to considerations for the remaining Articles of the SUP Directive. These regulations do however go further than Article 5 of the SUP Directive by banning the manufacture and supply of single-use plastic plates.

1.1.9 Oxo-degradable plastics are also not included within the restrictions at this point in time. This is an area of significant complexity and rapid change and Scottish Government is currently collecting further information on this area.

1.1.10 With the exception of plastic straws and balloon sticks, the manufacture of the restricted items will also be prohibited.

1.1.11 The SUP Directive also prohibits the placing of single-use cotton bud sticks onto the market. From 12th October 2019, the Scottish Government introduced a ban on the supply and manufacture of plastic stemmed cotton buds sticks in Scotland, under The Environmental Protection (Cotton Buds) (Scotland) Regulations 2019.[5] As a result, single-use cotton buds were not included within this consultation.

1.1.12 The Scottish Government has committed to meeting, or exceeding, the standards set out in the SUP Directive; to tackle pollution from single-use plastics, these being the items most commonly found on European beaches, and to promote the transition to a circular economy.

1.1.13 This commitment led the Scottish Government to undertake a consultation exercise to inform the options to introduce market restrictions on single-use plastic and oxo-degradable plastic products. The consultation exercise compared the impact of the market restrictions, against the current practice where no market restrictions are introduced, and where Scotland continues on a "Business-as-Usual" approach.

1.1.14 A "Business-as-Usual" approach would see no market restrictions introduced. Single-use plastic items would remain in our society, in our terrestrial and marine environments. This would hinder Scotland's progress toward tackling onshore and marine litter. A Business-as-Usual approach would also hamper progress toward the adoption of a circular economy.

1.1.15 To help inform the Scottish Government's decisions on the introduction of market restrictions on single-use plastic items in Scotland, the proposals were screened against the requirements of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 (the '2005 Act') and this identified that, as they are likely to have significant environmental effects, a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was required. The SEA was carried out to assess the likely significant environmental effects of the market restrictions of the selected problematic single-use plastic products and to identify ways in which adverse effects could be avoided, minimised or mitigated. The SEA also explored how any positive effects could be enhanced.

1.1.16 To assess the impact of the market restrictions, market research was used to identify the most common alternative products that could provide an alternative to each single-use plastic item to be phased out. For example, the use of wooden cutlery in place of plastic cutlery, or the use of wax-line paper straws in place of plastic straws. Alternative products were identified for each item within the scope of the market restriction and the effects of adopting the alternative were identified, evaluated and assessed against the Business-as-Usual baseline.

1.1.17 Modelling was completed to support analysis of the market restrictions against Business-as-Usual, where no market restrictions are introduced. The findings were presented in an Environmental Report[6] (ER).

1.1.18 The results, and supporting assessments were issued for a 3-month public consultation, from 12th October 2020 to 4th January 2021.[7]

1.1.19 Considering the consultation responses and further modelling and analysis, the Scottish Government has identified a final policy position which it is now adopting. The Scottish Government is making the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021. The regulations will mean that, from 1st June 2022, it will be an offence to supply the items in the course of business in Scotland. The supply restriction will apply regardless of the channel of distribution (whether physical or online). With the exception of plastic straws and balloon sticks, it will be an offence to manufacture the items in question.

1.1.20 The Scottish Government recognises that some single-use items, made of plastic or other material, perform a vital function which cannot be easily replaced with a more sustainable alternative, or are essential as they can support independent living and social inclusion for disabled people, this is particularly true for straws. In consequence, specific exemptions will be stipulated for medical and independent living requirements.

1.2 Consultation

1.2.1 The SEA was undertaken to both inform the decision-making process in the development of the market restrictions on the selected single-use plastics, and also to engage with the statutory consultees,[8] other stakeholders and interested parties via the statutory public consultation process set out in the 2005 Act.

1.2.2 Consultation was first undertaken with the statutory consultees on the proposed scope of SEA for a 4-week consultation ending on 21st September 2020. Each statutory consultee was provided with the SEA Screening and Scoping Report issued by the Scottish Government and comments invited. Consultation responses were received from all 3 statutory consultees to determine the final scope of the Environmental Report and assessments. This is discussed further in Section 4 of this PAS.

1.2.3 Public consultation was then held, from 12th October 2020 to 4th January 2021[9] to obtain the opinion of individuals and organisations on the proposed approach to the market restrictions on selected single-use plastic items and the possible impacts. Views on the consultation were obtained through the completion of an online questionnaire hosted on the Scottish Government's Consultation Hub[10] or via email submissions. This is discussed further in Section 4 of this PAS. The consultation documentation also included the Environmental Report (containing the findings of the SEA) along with online links to a Partial Business Regulatory Impact Assessment, the Islands Communities Screening Assessment, a Fairer Scotland Scoping Assessment and a Partial Equality Impact Assessment.

1.2.4 Table 1.1 details the timeline of the consultation documents for the market restrictions on selected single-use plastic items.

Table 1.1 Consultation stages and timeline for the market restrictions on selected single-use plastic items


Date of Publication/Period

Scoping Report

24th August to 21st September

Environmental Report

12th October 2020

Consultation period

12th October 2020 to 4th January 2021

Consultation on draft regulations

17th March 2021 to 13th April 2021

Publication of adopted approach

11 November 2021

1.3 Purpose of this Post Adoption Statement

1.2.5 In accordance with Section 17 of the 2005 Act, the Scottish Government has taken into account findings of the Environmental Report and the consultation responses to the report in coming to its decision on the preferred approach for the implementation of the market restrictions on selected single-use plastics.

1.2.6 Section 18 of the 2005 Act requires that when a plan or programme is adopted (in this case, the market restrictions), the consultation bodies and the public are informed, and the following specific information is made available:

  • the plan as adopted.
  • a statement summarising:

(i) how environmental considerations have been integrated into the design of the market restrictions on selected single-use plastics (Section 18(3)a of the 2005 Act).

(ii) how the Environmental Report has been taken into account (Section 18(3)b).

(iii) how consultees opinions have been taken into account (Section 18(3)c and d).

(iv) the reasons for choosing the market restrictions on selected single-use plastics, as adopted (Section 18(3)e); and

(v) the measures to be used to monitor the significant environmental effects of the implementation of the market restrictions on single-use plastics (Section 18(3)f).

1.2.7 The purpose of this Post Adoption Statement is to provide the specific information outlined under each of the points listed (i) to (v) above and which is presented in the following sections of this statement.


Email: supd@gov.scot

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