Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures: June 2018

Minutes from the first meeting of Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures (EPECOM), held on 19 June 2018.

Attendees and apologies


  • Dame Sue Bruce (Chair)
  • Professor Kate Sang
  • Professor Margaret Bates
  • Iain Gulland
  • Dame Professor Theresa Marteau
  • Gemma Stenhouse
  • Professor Aileen McHarg
  • Roger Kilburn
  • Professor Liam Delaney
  • Roger Kilburn
  • Mike Barry
  • Don McGillivary, SG
  • Colin MacBean, SG
  • Lucinda Fass, SG (Secretariat)


  • Terry A’Hearn

Items and actions

Agenda item 1: Welcome, introductions and apologies

1. The Chair opened the meeting with a welcome to the panel. Apologies were noted from Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of SEPA. Panel members introduced themselves and their area of expertise. Mike Barry (Head of Sustainability Marks & Spencer) made the panel aware that a conflict of interest could arise due to his position in retail. He volunteered to sit out any portion of discussions in future if necessary. 

 The Chair introduced the general remit and aims of the panel:

  • provide recommendations and action points for the Minister on the use of fees, charges and other measures to improve the circularity of the Scottish economy and tackle our throw away culture   
  • take advantage of current high public awareness around plastic waste and single-use items
  • think liberally with imagination and capture collective energy
  • frame the challenge effectively and identify which behaviours can be changed

Agenda item 2: Terms of reference

2. The panel discussed the terms of reference. The following points were raised in discussion:

  • Scottish Government officials are there to provide support to the panel, for example in gathering of relevant evidence and preparation of papers
  • panel members agreed to attend meetings in person where possible and to use video conference attendance only by exception. It was agreed that there should be no formal quorate requirement and dates would be rearranged if there were insufficient numbers to allow for a meaningful discussion
  • it was agreed that agendas and minutes should be published
  • it was agreed that Scottish Government Rural Economy and Environment Communications team should be the first port of call for press enquiries
  • it was agreed  that there may be a case for extending the membership of the panel to incorporate additional expertise. The Chair will discuss this further with officials

Agenda item 3: Waste and circular economy - potential priorities

3. Scottish Government updated the panel on a number of policy developments. Key points were:

  • a consultation on a Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland is opening on 27 June
  • the UK Government is developing a new Waste and Resources Management Strategy, which may also have implications for Scotland in areas such as producer responsibility
  • a summit on reducing plastic waste and marine litter had been held in Oban on 18 June. Key themes had included designing out waste, making greater use of recyclable and biodegradable materials, how to achieve behaviour change and make positive behaviours convenient for consumers, development of facilities for “on the go” recycling and the role of education and schools

4. The panel broadly discussed the issues to be addressed. They agreed:

  • the importance of framing the challenge appropriately in order to be effective as a panel. Analysis of situation / available further data would be helpful to understand the complete waste landscape. There may not be a perfect analysis summarising everything to be considered and panel decisions will need to be balanced between quantified data-based decisions and intelligent consideration of imperfect data
  • further information on the types of plastics on the market would be useful to the panel
  • the panel is also keen to understand regulatory powers and the producer responsibility scheme to understand how these are already influencing action by industry and consumers and how they are likely to develop in future
  • it will be helpful to put Expert Panel work in context with other recent legislative measures, for example the plastic bag charge and the smoking ban, to help understand the mechanics of behaviour change and subsequent public attitudes
  • to create change there is a need to translate the benefits (environmental, economic) so that the public understand why changes are vital. In this context it was noted that public acceptability is often high one year after a change is introduced and people don’t want to go back

Agenda item 4: Next steps

5. There was a discussion of various different ways of deciding priorities for the panel, and it was agreed that further information, analysis and discussion was needed to arrive at a finalised list. The Chair summed up the discussion as follows:

  • an initial focus should be on the tangible and deliverable single use items (straws, coffee cups) specifically included in the remit for the group
  • the panel should start with a reasonably short and manageable list of priorities and aim to make rapid progress on those, adding further priorities as required
  • there should be scope to move on to the harder to reach / change items e.g. small waste electrical and electronic equipment and there is the potential to choose at least one of these as an initial priority
  • officials should be asked to provide further analysis on the forward work programme and in the first instance should provide a paper on straws ahead of the September meeting

Action points

  1. Provide short summary of plastic types and their composition (Roger Kilburn)
  2. Various reports on plastics and coffee cups to be circulated to panel (Iain Gulland)
  3. Circulation of UK Government Environmental Audit Committee report on coffee cups (Margaret Bates)
  4. Circulate post-implementation analysis on plastic bag charge (SG)
  5. Invite panel to CIWM Resources Conference on 3 & 4 October (Iain Gulland)
  6. Officials to provide a paper on straws ahead of the next meeting

Date of next meeting

10 September 2018 12.45 pm

Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures

EPECOM agenda - June 2018
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