6. The measures decided concerning monitoring
6.1.1 Section 19 of the 2005 Act requires the Scottish Government, as the responsible authority, to monitor significant environmental effects of the implementation of the Plan.
6.1.2 It is not necessary to monitor everything or monitor an effect indefinitely. Instead, as noted in the SEA guidance, it is "practical to make a clear link between the significant effects predicted within an assessment and the indicators selected to monitor the likely environmental effects".
6.1.3 The Environmental Report identified several significant positive effects of the adopted market restrictions. These include:
- The eradication of the targeted single-use plastic items will provide a positive impact on the quality of Scotland's biodiversity, soils, climate and carbon emissions, material demand and landscape.
- The market restrictions will reduce the volumes of plastic entering Scotland's environments. They will reduce the volume of plastics degrading and entering soils and local environments. The restrictions will also reduce embedded carbon that is associated with the target single-use plastic items.
- Implementation of the market restrictions may lead to carbon savings of up to 5,500 tonnes CO2e, per annum if the alternative materials are adopted in place of the single-use plastic items within the scope of the restrictions. Further savings can also be achieved through the adoption of behaviours that reuse items.
- The market restriction will eliminate 749 million single-use plastic items, per annum, that fall within the scope of the market restrictions (totalling 1,860 tonnes per annum).
- The market restrictions will tackle the increase in plastic waste generation and the leakage of this waste into the terrestrial and marine environments.
- The market restrictions will support ambitions to change the throwaway culture by facilitating a move to reusable alternative items.
6.1.4 The market restrictions will remove the targeted single-use plastic items from Scottish society, it is expected that alternative recyclable single-use items may replace those removed from the market. Whilst the market restrictions are expected to deliver significant positive impacts, the Scottish Government should undertake ongoing monitoring exercises to assess how society responds to the restrictions and whether alternative single-use items replace those under the ban, or if alternative behaviours – such as increased re-use of items – emerge across society
6.1.5 Monitoring of these aspects can help to answer questions such as:
- Were the Environmental Report assessments of effects accurate?
- Are the restrictions contributing to the achievement of the Scottish Government objectives?
- Are mitigation measures performing as well as expected?
- Are there any unforeseen adverse effects? Are these within acceptable limits, or is remedial action desirable?
6.1.6 For the five environmental topics considered, monitoring of the aspects will be beneficial to assess the success of the market restrictions, and, to allow for the identification of unexpected challenges that require further intervention to ensure the effective realisation of the aims and objectives of the restrictions. The monitoring exercise can also be used to identify opportunities for the Scottish Government to provide further support, or incentive, to adopt alternative and more circular behaviours such as the increased reuse of items.
6.1.7 The Environmental Report proposed a series of measures to monitor the prevalence of the target single-use plastic items within terrestrial and marine environments. The Environmental Report reflected the understanding of the proposed policy at the point of consultation. The market restrictions to be implemented will lead to the cessation of the target items appearing within the environment and, in consequence, the proposed monitoring measures have been revised.
6.1.8 In order to ensure that the market responds to the introduction of the restrictions, and to permit the Scottish Government to respond over time, the following monitoring measures will be used:
- Monitoring of market practices through existing public sector, business and retailer engagement channels, or surveys, to identify whether the volume of single-use items are changing. Monitoring of these elements will identify how businesses are responding to the market restrictions; are they substituting the banned single-use items for alternative materials or adopting new behaviours. This exercise will also show whether demand for the alternative products is increasing which may suggest that the public requires further encouragement to adopt reusable items.
6.1.9 The Scottish Government will implement these measures as part of a monitoring framework for the market restrictions that will include reference to a roadmap of actions and progress indicators.