Publication - Impact assessment

EU single use plastics directive consultation: impact assessment - environmental report

Environmental report for a consultation on the introduction of new legislation to restrict the supply of seven single-use plastic items and all oxo-degradable products, in Scotland, with the intended effect of reducing the volume and impact of plastic pollution within terrestrial and marine environments.

146 page PDF

1.9 MB

146 page PDF

1.9 MB

Contents
EU single use plastics directive consultation: impact assessment - environmental report
7. Biodiversity

146 page PDF

1.9 MB

7. Biodiversity

NatureScot[86] defines biodiversity as "all living things; the plants, animals and insects in our forests, mountains, rivers, seas, gardens and parks, right down to the things living in our soils".

This section provides the contextual information to inform the assessment (in terms of the review of Plans, Programmes and Strategies (PPS) and the baseline information) as well as an assessment of the effects of the proposed market restrictions regarding biodiversity impacts.

7.1 Relationship with other Plans, Programmes and Strategies and Environmental Objectives

The PPS that are relevant to the landscape and visual impact topic that have been reviewed to inform the assessment exercise are shown in Figure 7‑1 and summarised thereafter.

For the purposes of the review of the international plans and programmes for this SEA, it is assumed that the broad objectives of extant European Union (EU) legislation will be maintained once the UK has withdrawn from the EU and that similar or equivalent environmental protections will remain in place.

Figure 7‑1 Plans, Policies and Strategies related to biodiversity
Chart showing relationships between various identified plans, policies and strategies related to biodiversity

The relationship between the identified PPSs and the restriction of single-use plastic items placed on the Scottish market are outlined below.

United Nations (2015): Transforming our World - the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets out 17 global goals agreed by the United Nations. The goals of the Agenda are outlined in Section 5.1 (above). With respect to biodiversity specifically, Goal 15 emphasises the need to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems; to sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and to halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss.

European Commission: The EU Water Framework Directive (2000) replaces seven previous Directives and seeks to protect the water habitats in lakes, rivers, groundwater and coastal beaches and aims to restore polluted waterways. The Directive introduces new ways of protecting and improving bodies of water to maximise environmental outcomes. Protection of the marine habitat of Scotland is a key concern and influencing factor in the restriction of single-use plastic items on the Scottish market, in that it will limit the prevalence and subsequent damage caused by slow-degrading and harmful plastic waste in the seas and waterways of Scotland.

The Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) include measures to maintain or restore important natural habitats and species including through the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). These Directives are transposed into UK law through a number of regulations and planning policy documents.

European Union (2019): Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment highlights significant negative environmental, health and economic impacts stemming from the continued use of certain plastic products. The aims and provisions of this Directive are outlined in Section 4.1 (above). In the context of Biodiversity, the directive calls for a significant reduction in waste, and specifically plastic waste, whose leakage into the environment is proven to have severe detrimental effects on the flora and fauna of Scotland. Restricting such materials in Scotland would therefore drive a significant reduction in plastic waste and its associated harm to the environment.

UK Government (1990): The Environmental Protection Act seeks to improve resource use and environmental conditions through the control of waste collections and management across the UK. The main provisions of the Act are outlined in Section 5.1 (above) The Act requires the UK to tightly control the movement and handling of wastes. The restriction of single-use plastic items placed onto the Scottish market could improve both environmental and ecological performance by reducing the overall amount and complexity of plastics entering the system.

Scottish Parliament: The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (2004) was supplemented by The Scottish Government's 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity (2013) document; both of which combine to form the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. The aims of the 2020 challenge were to sustain and enhance the ecosystems on both land and at sea so as to maximise benefits to Scotland through natural diversity and economic growth. Progress is measured using the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Indicators. The strategy brings together public bodies (SEPA, NatureScot, Local Authorities etc) to restore and regenerate ecosystem health across Scotland. The documents note that air, water and soil quality have declined over the last 60 years in Scotland and that sweeping reform is needed to reverse this trend. Restriction of the specified single-use plastic items on the Scottish market will have the effect of reducing plastic waste leaching into the environs of Scotland, thus mitigating negative effects of plastic waste on its biodiversity.

Scottish Natural Heritage: The Scotland Biodiversity Progress to 2020 Aichi Targets (2017) This progress report remains the most up to date regarding the 2020 targets noted above and demonstrates Scotland's progress toward 20 global targets set by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Of the 20 targets Scotland was noted as being on track for 7 and showing progress on 12 but requiring action. Only 1 target was noted as being at risk; wherein progress is moving away from the target. Of note, Scotland is considered a "world leader" in developing the concept of natural capital and integrating biological values in strategies and policies. In contrast, the 2017 report illustrated that at that time, indicators showed that progress to ensure sustainable consumption and production was lagging. The restriction of single-use plastic items placed on the Scottish market is evidence that this lag is being addressed.

Scottish Natural Heritage (2010): Scotland's Wildlife - An assessment of biodiversity in 2010 reported that of 8 priority coastal and marine habitats appraised, 38% were recorded as declining. In woodlands, 28% of 31 priority species were declining, while assessments on upland species demonstrated declining numbers across the board. Overall, across Scotland, 31% of priority habitats were declining whilst 41% were improving. The assessment concluded Scotland was on target in respect of 22 actions as of 2010, with 9 requiring improvement and 6 not on target. The market restriction of specified single-use plastic items will assist in the protection of Scottish biodiversity by reducing demand for virgin materials and better protecting habitats through reduced incidences of harmful plastic littering.

Scottish Parliament (2004) Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act aims to conserve biodiversity and habitats across Scotland. It requires public bodies and officeholders to consider the effect of their actions at a local, regional, national and international level through a new general duty. The Act extends the laws surrounding:

  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), of which Scotland now has over 1,400 covering around 1,011,000 hectares or 12.6% of Scotland's land area[87]
  • Animals by promoting stewardship of individual species as well as the overarching diversity of the habitats
  • Regulation of land management operations.

Scottish Government (2017) Pollinator Strategy for Scotland is the Governments strategy to manage the threats to pollinators from land use, habitat fragmentation, disease and pesticide. The strategy aims to "address the causes of decline in populations, diversity and range of our pollinator species and to help them thrive into the future". By 2027, the strategy intends to embed support for pollinators into strategies and policies across the public sector, improve understanding of pollinators and to regulate imports of species to minimise disease. Restricting single-use plastic items placed on the market in Scotland may support the pollinator strategy in preserving habitats and biodiversity through reductions in harmful plastic litter.

Scottish Government (2020): The Scottish Government Programme for Government (2020-21) states the Government's commitment to tackle climate change and to prepare Scotland for the new, low carbon world. The man objectives of the Programme are outlined in Section 4.1 (above). The programme protects Scotland's biodiversity by providing Police Scotland with new resources to tackle wildlife crime, to establish independent groups to manage grouse moors and to explore management of deer populations. The programme will develop the Central Scotland Green Network - Europe's largest greenspace project including 25 pollinator projects.

Scottish Government (2014): A Marine Litter Strategy for Scotland identified five proposed strategic directions to reach a zero waste Scotland, supported by responsible behaviours. The main aims of the Strategy are outlined in Section 5.1 (above). The strategy notes the harm posed to the marine environment from marine litter. As widely publicised, marine species are known to ingest large quantities of plastics that can cause severe damage. Limiting the generation of marine plastics will significantly decrease the impact that plastic waste can have on the wildlife of Scotland and beyond.

Scottish Government (2014): Toward a Litter free Scotland - The National Litter Strategy sets clear actions which have an impact upon material assets, when seeking to improve the environment through targeted approaches to litter and fly-tipping. The main aims of the Strategy are outlined in Section 5.1 (above). With specific reference to biodiversity, the restriction of single-use plastics will support the outcomes of this Strategy by stimulating the design of more sustainable products with higher reuse potential, replacing those single-use plastic products that are so often littered, and which have severely detrimental properties within the context of flora and fauna of Scotland.

7.2 Baseline Characteristics

This section of the Environmental Report identifies and characterises current environmental baseline conditions for biodiversity, flora and fauna. This baseline highlights designated nature conservation sites, for example Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Sites of Special Scientific Importance (SSSIs), Ancient Woodlands, Marine Protected Areas and Ramsar (wetland) Sites. It considers current pollution of terrestrial, coastal and marine environments and the effect this has on these ecosystems, including species and habitats, and their interactions.

7.2.1 Designated Conservation Sites

Designated sites, including Ramsar, SPAs, SACs and SSSI sites protect flora, fauna, geological or physiographical features of outstanding quality in terrestrial and coastal environments. Figure 7‑2 identifies the designated nature conservation areas in Scotland.

Figure 7‑2 Map of Nature Conservation Areas in Scotland. Source: The Scottish Government (2016) Key Scottish Environment Statistics
Map of Nature Conservation Areas in Scotland

There are also additional areas out with the area shown on the map (65% of Special Areas of Conservation and 71% of Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas are located outside the area pictured).[88]

Designated nature conservation areas in the Scotland include:

  • 152 SPAs, covering an area of 1,205,368 hectares (in addition to one site which straddles the border with England and is included under the England section above);[89]
  • 236 SACs covering an area of 2,289,782 hectares (in addition to three sites that straddle the border with England and are included under the England section above);[90]
  • 50 Ramsar sites covering a total area of 283,083 hectares (in addition to one site which straddles the border with England and is included under the England section above);[91] and
  • As of February 2014, 1,425 SSSIs covering 1,020,000 hectares (13% of Scotland).[92]

Figure 7‑3 demonstrates the growth of designated areas within Scotland between 1991 and 2016.

Figure 7‑3 Designated areas: 1991-2016 (Areas thousand hectares). Source: Scottish Natural Heritage (2017) Site of Special Scientific Interest
Graph of Designated areas over time period 1991-2016 (Areas thousand hectares)

Figure 7‑4 below shows the condition of designated sites from 2005 and 2018.[93] In 2018 this was assessed as:

  • Favourable: 66.2%
  • Unfavourable Recovering: 6.4%
  • Unfavourable Recovering Due to Management Change: 7.1%
Figure 7‑4 Condition of designated sites rom 2005-2018
Bar chart of Condition of designated sites from 2005-2018

The reasons for unfavourable conditions are numerous, reflecting the range of sites designated, and include:

  • Water Pollution from agriculture/run off;
  • Undergrazing;
  • Inappropriate scrub control;
  • Invasive species;
  • Forestry and woodland management;
  • Moor burning;
  • Water pollution from point discharges;
  • Public access/disturbance;
  • Coastal squeeze.

7.2.2 Pollution of environments and ecosystems

Single-use plastic items account for much of the plastic that ends up in the sea, as these items are lightweight and easily blown into streams and rivers which end up in the ocean. As discussed in Section 6, the Marine Conservation Society Great British Beach Clean 2017[94] identified that in Scotland beach litter rose by 6% in 2017 compared with 2016 in terms of the number of litter items identified. A total of 57,961 litter items were collected from 111 beaches, averaging 490 pieces of litter from every 100 metres cleaned, compared to 194 pieces of litter in 2013; an increase of approximately 250% in four years.

It is estimated that 267 species are affected by marine litter globally, and specifically 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of seabird species and 43% of marine mammal species are affected. Plastic litter is estimated to lead to the mortality; either directly or indirectly; of one million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals, including 30,000 seals and 100,000 turtles, globally every year either through entanglement or ingestion."[95] Marine plastics cause visible pollution, take centuries to break down and spread persistent toxic chemicals. When exposed to salt water and ultraviolet light these items can fragment into "microplastics" small enough to be mistakenly eaten by fish and other marine wildlife. This has knock on effects further up the food chain as the deleterious and toxic materials are effectively concentrated through each trophic level.

Numerous studies have also highlighted the adverse impacts of plastic-based terrestrial litter on terrestrial animals and birds.[96] Studies suggest that animals and birds can suffer from various forms of entanglement as well as accidental consumption of plastic which may - directly or indirectly - lead to the death of affected animals.

7.3 Likely Evolution of the Baseline without the SUP Directive

The 2019 review[97] of UK Biodiversity Indicators comprises 51 measures, of which five are not assessed in the long term and eight are not assessed in the short term. Of the 46 long-term measures, 24 show an improvement, compared to 14 of the measures that were deteriorating. Of the 43 short term measures, 18 show an improvement, as compared to 10 in decline. Measures that improved or deteriorated in the short term have not necessarily continued to improve or deteriorate respectively in the long term.

Measures showing long-term deterioration include: pressure from invasive species, parasites and pathogens reflecting a pattern of continuing or growing threat to biodiversity in the UK; status of UK priority species; birds of the wider countryside and at sea; insects in the wider countryside (e.g. butterflies); animal genetic resources, and the status of pollinating insects.

In the absence of market restrictions on the specified single-use plastic items and oxo-degradable plastics, it is anticipated that the amount of single-use plastics would still likely decline, as a number of major players in the retail and hospitality sector have already committed to alternatives.[98] However, the pace at which companies are eliminating single-use plastics is relatively slow.

7.4 Consideration of Reasonable Alternatives

7.4.1 Methodology

Although all alternative options to the specified single-use plastic items are also single-use and hence would also likely be discarded after one use, market restrictions are expected to reduce the prevalence of litter which has adverse effects on marine and terrestrial environments. Current estimates of single-use plastic litter are discussed in Section 6.2.2.

7.4.2 Results

Table 7‑1 lists the contribution of each targeted single-use plastic item to the issue of littering in Scotland. We expect non-plastic single-use alternatives will decompose naturally with no negative effect on biodiversity at terrestrial sites of importance for nature conservation, including in particular those sites protected for their importance to wild birds which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of litter. The tables below provide a detailed assessment of the likely significant environmental effects of introducing market restrictions to the in-scope single-use plastic items and the corresponding reasonable alternatives.

Table 7‑1 breakdown of single-use plastic litter by type.
Measure No Single-use plastic items in scope Alternative option Litter share (% by item)
1 Cutlery Wooden Cutlery 1
2 Plates Wax-coated Paper Plates 1
3 Beverage Stirrer Wooden Stirrer 0.1
4 Straws Wax-line paper straws 1.9
5 Balloon sticks Cardboard balloon sticks N/A
6 Food containers made of expanded polystyrene Wax-coated cardboard boxes 0.3 -0.5
7 Cups and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene Plastic-coated paper cups 0.14
8 Oxo-biodegradable HDPE Conventional plastic N/A

The key to each assessment score is shown below.

Score Key:

++ : Significant positive effect
+ : Minor positive effect
0 : No overall effect
- : Minor negative effect
-- : ignificant negative effect
? : Score uncertain

NB: where more than one symbol is presented in a box it indicates that the SEA has found more than one score for the category. Where the scores are both positive and negative, the boxes are deliberately not coloured (i.e. 'no overall effect'). Where a box is coloured but also contains a "?" this indicates uncertainty over whether the effect could be a minor or significant effect although a professional judgement is expressed in the colour used. A conclusion of uncertainty arises where there is insufficient evidence for expert judgement to conclude an effect.

Measure No 1

Material/item in scope: Plastics cutlery

The alternative option: Wooden cutlery

Notes:

SEA criteria: Will it protect and/or enhance designated nature conservation sites e.g. Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Importance, Ancient Woodlands, Marine Protected Areas and Ramsar Sites?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

Introducing market restrictions on plastic cutlery might incentivise a reduction in litter. The alternative option (wooden cutlery) - if littered inappropriately - will decompose naturally and hence will not have a negative effect on biodiversity at terrestrial sites of importance for nature conservation, in particular those sites protected for their importance to wild birds which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of litter.

Overall, wooden cutlery is not deemed to cause the same level of harm to designated nature conservation sites as plastic cutlery.

SEA criteria: Will it support the protection and enhancement of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, including species and habitats, and their interactions?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

When compared to single-use plastic cutlery, it is anticipated that wooden cutlery will have no adverse impacts on terrestrial and marine ecosystems and hence support the protection and enhancement of these areas. However, for the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, the significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

SEA criteria: Will it help avoid pollution of the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

It is anticipated that the alternative option would help reduce the risk of pollution (associated with littering) of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. For the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, the significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

Measure No 2

Material/item in scope: Plastics plates

The alternative option: Wax-coated paper plates

Notes:

SEA criteria: Will it protect and/or enhance designated nature conservation sites e.g. Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Importance, Ancient Woodlands, Marine Protected Areas and Ramsar Sites?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

Introducing market restrictions on plastic plates might incentivise a reduction in litter. The alternative option (paper plates) - if littered inappropriately - will decompose naturally and hence will not have a negative effect on biodiversity at terrestrial sites of importance for nature conservation, in particular those sites protected for their importance to wild birds which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of litter.

Overall, wax-coated paper plates - if littered inappropriately - are not deemed to cause the same level of harm to designated nature conservation sites as plastic plates.

SEA criteria: Will it support the protection and enhancement of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, including species and habitats, and their interactions?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

When compared to single-use plastic plates, it is anticipated that wax-coated paper plates will have no adverse impacts on terrestrial and marine ecosystems and hence support the protection and enhancement of these areas. However, for the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, the significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

SEA criteria: Will it help avoid pollution of the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

It is anticipated that the alternative option would help reduce the risk of pollution (associated with littering) of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. For the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, the significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

Measure No 3

Material/item in scope: Plastic beverage stirrer

The alternative option: Wooden stirrer

Notes:

SEA criteria: Will it protect and/or enhance designated nature conservation sites e.g. Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Importance, Ancient Woodlands, Marine Protected Areas and Ramsar Sites?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

Introducing market restrictions on single-use plastic stirrers might incentivise a reduction in litter. The alternative option (wooden stirrers) - if littered inappropriately - will decompose naturally and hence will not have a negative effect on biodiversity at terrestrial sites of importance for nature conservation, in particular those sites protected for their importance to wild birds which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of litter.

Overall, wooden stirrers - if littered inappropriately - are not deemed to cause the same level of harm to designated nature conservation sites as a plastic stirrer.

SEA criteria: Will it support the protection and enhancement of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, including species and habitats, and their interactions?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

When compared to single-use plastic stirrers, it is anticipated that wooden stirrers will have no adverse impacts on terrestrial and marine ecosystems and hence support the protection and enhancement of these areas. However, for the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, the significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

SEA criteria: Will it help avoid pollution of the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

It is anticipated that the alternative option would help reduce the risk of pollution (associated with littering) of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. For the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, the significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

Measure No 4

Material/item in scope: Plastic straws

The alternative option: Wax-lined paper straws

Notes:

SEA criteria: Will it protect and/or enhance designated nature conservation sites e.g. Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Importance, Ancient Woodlands, Marine Protected Areas and Ramsar Sites?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

Introducing market restrictions on single-use plastic straws might incentivise a reduction in litter. The alternative option (waxed-lined paper straw) - if littered inappropriately - will decompose naturally (assuming the wax coated material is compostable) and hence will not have the same level of negative effect on biodiversity at terrestrial sites of importance for nature conservation, in particular those sites protected for their importance to wild birds which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of litter.

Overall, paper straws - if littered inappropriately - are not deemed to cause the same level of harm to designated nature conservation sites as plastic straws.

SEA criteria: Will it support the protection and enhancement of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, including species and habitats, and their interactions?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

When compared to single-use plastic straws, it is anticipated that wax-lined paper straws will have no adverse impacts on terrestrial and marine ecosystems and hence support the protection and enhancement of these areas. However, for the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, the significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

SEA criteria: Will it help avoid pollution of the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

It is anticipated that the alternative option would help reduce the risk of pollution (associated with littering) of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. For the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, The significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

Measure No 5

Material/item in scope: Plastic balloon sticks

The alternative option: Cardboard balloon sticks

Notes:

SEA criteria: Will it protect and/or enhance designated nature conservation sites e.g. Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Importance, Ancient Woodlands, Marine Protected Areas and Ramsar Sites?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

Introducing market restrictions on plastic balloon sticks might incentivise a reduction in litter. The alternative option (cardboard balloon sticks) - if littered inappropriately - will decompose naturally and hence will not have the same level of negative effect on biodiversity at terrestrial sites of importance for nature conservation, in particular those sites protected for their importance to wild birds which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of litter.

Overall, cardboard sticks - if littered inappropriately - are not deemed to cause the same level of harm to designated nature conservation sites as plastic balloon sticks.

SEA criteria: Will it support the protection and enhancement of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, including species and habitats, and their interactions?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

When compared with single-use plastic balloon sticks, it is anticipated that cardboard balloon sticks will have no adverse impacts on terrestrial and marine ecosystems and hence support the protection and enhancement of these areas. However, for the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, the significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

SEA criteria: Will it help avoid pollution of the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

It is anticipated that the alternative option would help reduce the risk of pollution (associated with littering) of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. For the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, the significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

Measure No 6

Material/item in scope: Food containers made of expanded polystyrene

The alternative option: Wax-coated cardboard boxes

Notes:

SEA criteria: Will it protect and/or enhance designated nature conservation sites e.g. Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Importance, Ancient Woodlands, Marine Protected Areas and Ramsar Sites?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

Introducing market restrictions on EPS food containers might incentivise a reduction in litter. The alternative option (wax-coated cardboard boxes) - if littered inappropriately - will decompose naturally (assuming that any coated material is made from compostable material) and hence will not have the same level of negative effect on biodiversity at terrestrial sites of importance for nature conservation, in particular those sites protected for their importance to wild birds which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of litter.

Overall, wax-coated cardboard boxes - if littered inappropriately - are not deemed to cause the same level of harm to designated nature conservation sites as EPS food containers.

SEA criteria: Will it support the protection and enhancement of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, including species and habitats, and their interactions?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

When compared to EPS food containers, it is anticipated that wax-coated cardboard boxed will have no adverse impacts on terrestrial and marine ecosystems and hence support the protection and enhancement of these areas. However, for the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, the significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

SEA criteria: Will it help avoid pollution of the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

It is anticipated that the alternative option would help reduce the risk of pollution (associated with littering) of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. For the reasons discussed in Section 7.2.2, the significance of the effect on marine environments is to some extent uncertain.

Measure No 7

Material/item in scope: Cups and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene[99]

The alternative option: Plastic-coated paper cups

Notes:

SEA criteria: Will it protect and/or enhance designated nature conservation sites e.g. Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Importance, Ancient Woodlands, Marine Protected Areas and Ramsar Sites?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

As the alternative option for EPS cups (i..e, plastic-coated paper cup) has a layer of plastic lining, we assumed that plastic-coated cups - if littered inappropriately - will cause the same level of harm on biodiversity at terrestrial sites of importance for nature conservation, in particular those sites protected for their importance to wild birds which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of litter. However, potential harm is expected to be relatively lower as the amount of plastic in paper cups is 75% less than EPS cups and beverage containers.

SEA criteria: Will it support the protection and enhancement of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, including species and habitats, and their interactions?

Score: No overall effect

Commentary:

We do not expect to see any improvement in this area by replacing EPS cups by paper cups with plastic coating.

SEA criteria: Will it help avoid pollution of the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

We do expect plastic-coated paper cups to help avoid pollution as the as the amount of plastic in paper cups is 75% less than EPS cups and beverage containers.

Measure No 8

Material/item in scope: Oxo-degradable HDPE

The alternative option: Conventional HDPE

Notes:

SEA criteria: Will it protect and/or enhance designated nature conservation sites e.g. Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Importance, Ancient Woodlands, Marine Protected Areas and Ramsar Sites?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

Introducing market restrictions on Oxo-degradable HDPE might incentivise a reduction in litter. The alternative option (Conventional HDPE) is also a single-use item and - if littered inappropriately - is expected to cause less harm on biodiversity at terrestrial sites of importance for nature conservation, in particular those sites protected for their importance to wild birds which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of litter.

According to a report commissioned by the trade association European Bioplastics (EUBP), [100] there is currently insufficient evidence that oxo-degradable plastics "biodegrade fully or within reasonable time". The report goes on to highlight that the pro-oxidant additives present in such materials could potentially cause toxic effects in soil.

Overall, Conventional HDPE seems to have a lower negative effect on biodiversity. Further analysis is required in order to holistically assess the impact of conventional plastics on biodiversity.

SEA criteria: Will it support the protection and enhancement of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, including species and habitats, and their interactions?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

Pro-oxidant additives could potentially cause toxic effects in soil; therefore, any alternative option will reduce the risk of these chemicals leaking to the terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems.

SEA criteria: Will it help avoid pollution of the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments?

Score: Minor positive effect / Score uncertain

Commentary:

Pro-oxidant additives could potentially cause toxic effects in soil; therefore, any alternative option will reduce the risk of these chemicals leaking to the terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems.

7.5 Mitigation and Enhancement

As single-use plastic items targeted by market restrictions will be replaced by single-use compostable items which are made of paper or wood, it would be imperative to design a clear and targeted awareness campaign to ensure that citizens are well informed about the new measure and the best disposal route for alternative material in order to avoid unnecessary landfilling and to ensure that material value is preserved into any secondary use phase.


Contact

Email: SUPD@gov.scot