Publication - Impact assessment

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

Published: 11 Nov 2021

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.

Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021: strategic environmental assessment - post adoption statement
4. How opinions expressed on the consultation have been taken into account

4. How opinions expressed on the consultation have been taken into account

4.1 Overview

4.1.1 Consultation lies at the heart of any meaningful assessment or appraisal process and is based on the key principle that plan and programme making is better where it is transparent, inclusive and uses information that has been subject to public scrutiny. In this context the Scottish Government, has sought to ensure that those with an interest in, or who will be affected by, the market restrictions should have the opportunity to present their views on the consultation documentation.

4.2 Public consultation

4.2.1 Public consultation was held, from 12th October 2020 to 4th January 2021[24] to obtain the opinion of public individuals and organisations on the proposed policy, and the possible impacts of such an approach. Views were obtained through two channels; through the completion of a questionnaire hosted on the Scottish Government's Consultation Hub[25] or by completing a Respondent Information Form and emailing this to the Scottish Government team.[26] The consultation documentation also included the Environmental Report along with online links to a Partial Business Regulatory Impact Assessment, the Islands Communities Screening Assessment, Fairer Scotland Duty Scoping Assessment and a Partial Equality Impact Assessment.

4.2.2 A detailed analysis of the completed public consultation was published by the Scottish Government on 17th March 2021.[27]

4.3 Consultation on the Environmental Report

4.3.1 The Environmental Report was published to accompany the public consultation documentation on the market restrictions on problematic single-use plastic items.

4.3.2 To direct consultee responses, the Environmental Report included the following 5 questions:

1. To what extent does the Environmental Report set out an accurate description of the current baseline and the business-as-usual scenario? (Please give details of additional relevant sources)

2. Do you think that the Environmental Report has correctly identified the likely significant effects of the proposed restriction on single-use and oxo-degradable plastics placed on the market in Scotland?

3. Do you agree with the recommendations and proposals for mitigation and enhancement of the environmental effects set out in the Environmental Report? (If not, what do you think should be the key recommendations and why?)

4. Are you aware of any further information that will help to inform the findings of the assessment? (Please give details of additional relevant sources)

5. Do you agree with the proposed arrangements for monitoring the significant effects of the proposed restriction? (If not, what measures do you propose?)

4.3.3 A sixth question (from the public consultation) was also considered relevant to the analysis:

6. Taking into account the accompanying Impact Assessments, can you identify any environmental, economic or social impacts we have not identified when developing the proposals contained in this consultation? Please give reasons.[28]

4.3.4 A total of 766 responses were received to the consultation on the Environmental Report. A total of 692 individuals and 74 organisations provided a response. These included responses from the statutory consultees (2 in total; 3% of responses from organisations), other public bodies (10 in total; 14% of responses from organisations), industry (38 in total; 51% of responses from organisations), the waste sector (1 in total; 1% of responses from organisations), environmental interest groups (18 in total; 24% of responses from organisations), health interest groups (3 in total; 4% of responses from organisations) and 1 other that could not be categorised (1% of responses from organisations).

4.4 Statutory consultees responses

4.4.1 Consultation responses to the Environmental Report were received from two[29] of the three statutory consultees (Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and NatureScot (NS)):

  • Historic Environment Scotland (HES) are supportive of the approach which will catalyse progress towards sustainable tourism, mitigate climate change and reduce environmental pollution. HES are content that the historic environment is scoped out of the assessment and have no further comments, concerns or recommendations to be addressed in the final design of the policy, nor in this PAS.
  • NatureScot (NS) largely agree with the findings of the Environmental Report and assessment. NS state that "While the alternative options are likely to lessen the negative effects of the single-use plastics, they in themselves are not free from impacts. There are a number of assumptions made in reaching the conclusion of positive effects which will need to be further monitored to establish their effectiveness…. It will be important to put in place robust monitoring to identify the effects of the alternatives, to be able to actionremedial measures to address impacts that cannot be predicted as part of this assessment."

NS also welcome the recommendation that additional measures are considered to reduce the generation of non-plastic single-use items and that Scotland "incentivise behavioural change towards the adoption of multi-use alternatives "

NS echo the comments from HES in raising a concern that the impact of alternative materials e.g., wooden and paper alternatives; "there is the assumption that wooden and paper alternatives will not have a negative effect on biodiversity. While these alternatives may not cause the same level of harm, it is not clear that they will have no negative effects. It will be helpful to ensure robust monitoring measures are in place to further address impacts if these are found to be more significant than the report initially concludes. Monitoring the environmental effects arising from the plan are an integral part of the assessment process and while we welcome the specific nature of the monitoring proposals, these need to be firmer commitments. This is particularly important since the findings from the assessment are often based on assumptions resulting from activities that are out with the control of the plan, such as behavioural change of the public, or composting of wooden and paper alternatives".

NS agree that "Targeted single-use plastic products are expected to be replaced with alternatives made from shorter lived, largely biodegradable (wood, paper etc.) materials. This material shift will not only reduce microplastics entering the soil but will {with} the degradation of littered items, thereby reducing the 'litter begets litter' behavioural effect which occurs when litter accumulates over time". This observation is applicable to all of the topic areas and in particular the landscape section."

4.4.2 The comments from the statutory consultees are addressed in the final, chosen design of the policy as well as future monitoring initiatives (see Section 5 and Section 6 of this PAS).

4.5 Public consultees responses

4.5.1 The key findings from the analysis of the public consultation to the questions in the Environmental Report are as follows.

Question 1: To what extent does the Environmental Report set out an accurate description of the current baseline and the Business-as-Usual scenario? - SEA Q1

4.5.2 A total of 284 responses were received for question 1. A total of 211 respondents read the Environmental Report and provided a response[30]. Of these 211, 85% believe the Environmental Report set out an accurate description of the current baseline and the Business-as-Usual scenario. A total of 15% of respondents did not agree.

Question 2: Do you think that the Environmental Report has correctly identified the likely significant effects of the proposed restriction on single-use and oxo-degradable plastics placed on the market in Scotland? - SEA Q2

4.5.3 A total of 19 responses were received for question 2. A total of 16 respondents were able to provide a response. Of the 17 respondents, 71% think that the Environmental Report has correctly identified the likely significant effects of the proposed restriction on single-use plastic items and oxo-degradable products placed on the market in Scotland. A total of 19% of respondents did not agree.

Question 3: Do you agree with the recommendations and proposals for mitigation and enhancement of the environmental effects set out in the Environmental Report? (If not, what do you think should be the key recommendations and why?) - SEA Q3

4.5.4 A total of 494 responses were received for question 3, of which 91% of respondents agree with the recommendations and proposals for mitigation and enhancement of the environmental effects set out in the Environmental Report. A total of 9% of respondents did not agree.

Question 4: Are you aware of any further information that will help to inform the findings of the assessment? (Please give details of additional relevant sources) - SEA Q4

4.5.5 In response to question 4, respondents referenced a range of additional information sources that could help inform the findings of the assessment. Respondents highlighted sources of information but not specific reports. Appendix A lists the common data sources recommended by respondents.

Question 5: Do you agree with the proposed arrangements for monitoring the significant effects of the proposed restriction? (If not, what measures do you propose?) - SEA Q5

4.5.6 A total of 495 responses were received for question 5, of which 93% of respondents agree with the arrangements for monitoring the significant effects of the proposed restriction. A total of 8% of respondents did not agree.

Question 6: Taking into account the accompanying Impact Assessments, can you identify any environmental, economic or social impacts we have not identified when developing the proposals contained in this consultation? Please give reasons. - Question 6

4.5.7 In response to question 6, a total of 183 respondents said they had identified environmental, economic or social impacts which they felt the Scottish Government had not identified when developing the proposals contained in the consultation. Comments of relevance to the SEA include:

Environmental impacts

  • That the restrictions may lead to tourism benefits. It is assumed that this refers to reduced litter.
  • That the adoption of alternative materials e.g., plant-based alternatives, may lead to negative impacts including habitat devastation and biodiversity loss increased through land use.
  • That environmental benefits must be measured by conducting life cycle assessments (including the propensity to litter) otherwise the ban may result in a negative environmental impact.
  • That the focus should remain on providing replacements that fit into the circular economy rather than linear solutions.

Economic impacts

  • That the increased use of reusable items, and recycling of alternative materials, may create additional employment opportunities in new manufacturing and reprocessing facilities.
  • That there may be an adverse impact upon hospitality business who rely on take away food and drink.
  • That the restrictions will introduce additional burdens for UK-wide suppliers and caterers.
  • That the new restrictions may require subsidies for businesses to adapt to the requirements.

Social impacts

  • That the market restrictions could lead to safer uses of open spaces. It is assumed that this refers to a reduced risk of injury from sharp single-use items littered in open spaces.
  • That the proposed ban will bring about healthier, happier communities who can better enjoy their natural environment.
  • That the restrictions can lead to an improvement in human mental health as residents enjoy the environment to de-stress.

4.5.8 The main opportunities identified by respondents are summarised as follows:

  • That the market interventions can reduce litter across Scotland's onshore and marine environments.
  • That the restriction could improve the quality of Scotland's soils and ecosystems.
  • That the restrictions can support the adoption of a circular economy in Scotland.
  • That the restrictions may lead to new industries and employment opportunities.
  • That the restrictions can support Scotland's efforts to tackle climate change.

4.5.9 The main risks of concern which could jeopardise the success of restrictions, by number of respondents, are:

  • That the restrictions may lead to an increased use of alternative materials where the full impact of these are not fully understood.
  • That alternative materials may become prevalent in litter across our marine and onshore environments.
  • That businesses may face additional burdens (financial and administrative) in having to adopt new materials.

4.5.10 The main recommendations proposed by respondents include:

  • The Scottish Government should remain focussed on promoting sustainable replacements to single-use items, that fit into the adoption of a circular economy across society.
  • That subsidies may be necessary to support businesses to adapt to the market restrictions.
  • That ongoing investigations continue to understand the environmental impact of the alternative materials.

4.6 Responding to the consultation

4.6.1 The high number of responses to the consultation is welcomed by the Scottish Government. It is evident that market restrictions on single-use plastic items is a topic that has attracted considerable public interest and that overall, the majority of respondents appear to view market restrictions on single-use plastic items as an opportunity to achieve positive outcomes including a reduction in litter, carbon emissions and material demand.

4.6.2 The introduction of market restrictions on the specific single-use plastic items identified will be taken forward as outlined in the Environmental Report, with the exception of bowls, trays and platters, and oxo-degradable plastics which are not being included. Specific exemptions will be stipulated for plastic straws to allow medical and independent living requirements, and balloon sticks for professional uses will also be exempted. Other than this, the range of materials will remain unchanged; all other items outlined in the Environmental Report will be within the scope of the market restrictions.


Contact

Email: supd@gov.scot