10. Assessment Conclusions and Recommendations
This section outlines the headline findings of the strategic environmental assessment. It summarises the anticipated environmental effects of the proposed market restrictions on specified single-use plastic items and oxo-degradable plastic products before recommending proposals for monitoring the impact of the proposed changes.
The next stage will involve the launch of a public consultation on proposals. This section concludes by providing information to the public on how to share their thoughts and views on the proposed market restrictions.
10.1 What are the environmental effects of restriction of single-use plastic products placed on the Scottish Market?
The proposed market restrictions are expected to have positive environmental effect across all impact categories assessed:
- Material assets
- Climatic factors and carbon and total GHG emissions;
- Landscape; and
By reducing demand for virgin fossil-based plastic, and shifting consumption to alternative materials, the proposed market restrictions will reduce the impact of litter and the volume of microplastics leaking into both terrestrial and marine environments, both of which negatively impact biodiversity. Displacing high-carbon fossil-based plastics with lower carbon alternatives such as paper and cardboard, will also result in a net carbon savings.
A summary of cumulative effects from targeted single-use plastic items is provided in Table 9‑1.
10.2 Proposals for Monitoring
Section 19 of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 requires the Responsible Authority to monitor significant environmental effects of the implementation of the Plan. The Responsible Authority will be the Scottish Government.
In order to ensure the intended benefits of the proposed market restrictions are being realised, the following monitoring framework is proposed:
- Litter and Beach Clean Data - litter and beach clean-up data collected in Scotland by organisations like Keep Scotland Beautiful and the Marine Conservation Society can be used to monitor changes in observable litter following the implementation of the proposed market restrictions.
- Waste Composition Studies - Zero Waste Scotland periodically conducts studies to determine the composition of Scotland's waste. Zero Waste Scotland and the Scottish Government are considering plans to increase the frequency and scope of these studies, which could be used to assess the impact of the proposed market restrictions on waste.
- Soil Monitoring - soil monitoring is routinely undertaken by SEPA in partnership with the Soil Monitoring Action Plan (Soil MAP) and could be used to monitor changes in microplastic pollution following the implementation of the proposed market restrictions.
The combination of above datasets will help determine whether there has been a reduction in plastic litter and leakage into the environment, and whether the anticipated switch to single-use items made of alternative, lower carbon materials has taken place.
10.3 Next Steps
Public views and comments are invited on the environmental impacts of the proposed market restrictions as set out in this Environmental Report. In particular, Scottish Government is interested to receive consultee responses to the following 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?)
The consultation runs until 4 January 2021. Comments on the proposed market restrictions and the Environmental Report can be submitted online on the Introducing Market Restrictions on Problematic Single-use Plastic Items in Scotland Citizen Space Access the consultation and submit a response.
Following the conclusion of the consultation period, the responses received will be analysed and reported. Key messages from respondents, including those of the various stakeholder groups, will be highlighted and the findings of the analysis will be taken into account in the adoption of the proposed market restrictions.
Upon implementation of any such restrictions, a Post-adoption SEA Statement will be prepared. This Statement will reflect on the findings of the SEA assessment and the views expressed in the consultation, and outline how the issues raised have been considered in the finalisation of the policy.