Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures: September 2019

Minutes from the sixth meeting of Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures (EPECOM), held on 2 September 2019.

Attendees and apologies


Panel members

  • Dame Sue Bruce, Chair 
  • Prof. Dame Theresa Marteau    
  • Professor Kate Sang         
  • Professor Aileen McHarg         
  • Gemma Stenhouse              
  • Liam Delaney (by telephone)


  • Don McGillivray, Scottish Government


  • Janet McVea, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Faulk, Zero Waste Scotland
  • Jack Barrie, Zero Waste Scotland
  • Aster de Vries Lentsch, Scottish Government
  • Beth Hadley, Scottish Government 
  • Rhys Howell, SG Environment and Rural Analysis
  • Chris Dodds, SG  Environment and Rural Analysis


  • Margaret Bates
  • Mike Barry
  • Iain Gulland, Advisor
  • Terry A’hearn, Advisor

Items and actions

Agenda Item 1 – Welcome, Apologies, Minutes of last meeting and Action Log

1. Dame Sue Bruce chaired the meeting and welcomed the Panel to its sixth meeting, noting that it marked the official start of the Panel’s second year. Sue also thanked Theresa Marteau for chairing in her absence at the last meeting.

2. Apologies were noted from Professor Margaret Bates, Mike Barry, Iain Gulland and Terry A’hearn. The Panel approved the minutes of the last meeting and noted the completion of the action log. 

Agenda Item 2 – Chair’s Scene Setting

3. The Chair started by noting this meeting was the first since the Panel’s first report and supporting papers published on 17 July. The Chair commended the Panel for their effort in the final stages of the Report’s preparation for publication, and noted that she was delighted with  the quality of the content and the recommendations. 

4. The Panel was updated on the meeting between the Chair and the Cabinet Secretary, who has welcomed the report and passed on her gratitude to the Panel for all the hard work of the Panel. The Cabinet Secretary will give the report her full consideration and formally respond in due course. 

5. In the meeting with the Cabinet Secretary it was also noted that the Panel had only 5 meetings left. This  timeframe would lend itself better to a more holistic, toolkit approach as a final legacy output from the Panel than another report on a single priority item. The Cabinet Secretary also restated her intention to attend the Panel’s meeting in November.

6. The Chair asked members to note  that Theresa Marteau has accepted the role of vice-Chair of the Panel, in recognition of her contributions acting as chair in Dame Bruce’s absence on previous occasions.

Agenda Item 3 – Update on the Report on Single-Use Disposable Beverage Cups – Reception and Implementation (Paper 6.1)

7. The Chair provided further feedback from the Cabinet Secretary; Ms Cunningham was positive about separating the charge for the cup and the beverage and also remarked that the presence of reusable cups is visibly increasing. There was an encouragement to trial initiatives in Scotland and to continue to build the evidence base where possible. 

8. The Chair noted that the Report seems to have landed well. Panel members were similarly happy with the reception of the report. Going forward, an update on the Report would be a standing item on the agenda, to keep Panel Members informed on progress in delivering the recommendations.

Agenda Item 4 - Updates on key developments in Scotland, UK & EU

9. Secretariat provided a brief update on key developments in Scotland, UK & the EU and highlighted that developments in the areas of interest to the Panel were continuing rapidly. Issues of particular relevance were the publication of the EU SUP and the announcement by Defra on their plans to ban of plastic straws, stirrers and balloon sticks by April 2020. Similarly advisors to the Panel noted that responses to the UK consultation on extended producer responsibility reform for packaging had now been published, but cautioned that any implementation of changes would be unlikely to come into force before 2023/2024.    

10. Responding to the publication of the EU SUP Directive and Defra’s proposed restriction of sales on straws, Panel Members reiterated the importance of embedding equalities impacts in all facets of their work and any future approach to single-use items. Panel Members expressed their concern at some of the proposals that had been put forward in Defra’s consultation on straws, most notably to make straws available only on prescription. Secretariat confirmed that these concerns had been raised widely, and Defra’s approach had since changed to a restriction of sales rather than an outright ban, making sure straws would still be available in pharmacies and in hospitality venues on request for anyone who needed them. 

Agenda Item 5 – Future workplan and approach (Paper 6.2 & Paper 6.3)

11. First and foremost, Panel Members noted and restated the importance of embedding equalities in their work going forward, and that it would need to be a core element of any toolkit produced for policy makers. 

12. The Panel reviewed the information in the paper provided by the Secretariat which set out possible approaches with a forward look towards potential outputs. The Panel approved the proposal to take forward a toolkit approach, instead of an item-by-item approach. 

DECISION: The Panel approve a toolkit approach to single-use items, to be produced as the Panel’s final output by Summer 2020. 

13. The Chair noted that the Panel had been asked by the Cabinet Secretary to think about the scope of the toolkit and the audience for the toolkit. There was potential for the Panel to help consumers understand the difference between single-use plastic, single-use items, and plastic items and what an informed decision making process would look like. 

14. The Panel discussed what a potential toolkit might look like and who the potential audience might be. Although no final decision was made, the consensus was to focus on a toolkit for policy makers in the first instance, from which a more public facing consumer toolkit could also be drawn, as well as academic outputs. 

15. Panel Members noted that there must be toolkits in existence that might help inform an optimal format, design and parameters, and requested the Secretariat put together an overview of some toolkits to help inform their discussion. 

Action point 1: Secretariat to collate paper with overview of existing policy toolkits 

16. The Panel also highlighted the importance of involving young people in the development of any toolkit, and Panel Members were keen to explore how Young Scot or the Climate 2050 group could contribute. Advisors raised the prospect of a hackathon or venturejam to help shape the toolkit, and the Panel requested the Secretariat explore this further. 

Action point 2: Secretariat to explore the potential with Young Scot/Climate 2050 Group to organise hackathon/venturejam to help shape toolkit

17. The Panel discussed some of the cross-cutting themes that would need to be addressed by a toolkit, most notably equalities, but also existing policies, what might be a good use of plastic, whether items are a necessity or luxury etc. The toolkit could follow a simple structure: 1) why it is important and what guidance already exists; 2) A step-by-step guide to help prioritise action on items, what barriers and levers exist; and 3) Case studies, preferably on a country level, of where interventions have been implemented. The Panel request the Secretariat put together a draft outline of what a potential toolkit might look like for the next meeting. 

Action point 3: Secretariat to develop a draft framework for the toolkit, including a possible structure and potential cross-cutting themes. 

18. The Secretariat note that some relevant research is being conducted by Marine Scotland on mapping the plastics value chain for certain items that are relevant to the Panel, and agrees to share this research with the Panel once it has been published. 

Action point 4: Secretariat to share Marine Scotland plastic value chain research. 

Agenda Item 5 – Future Membership

19. The Chair noted that Roger Kilburn had stepped down from the Panel, and had nominated Dr Ian Archer in his stead. Dr Archer has extensive experience in the chemical industry, and would be a suitable candidate to represent the industry experience Roger brought to the Panel previously. The Panel approved the nomination to the Panel. 

DECISION: The Panel approve Dr Ian Archer’s appointment to the Panel.

Action point 5: Secretariat to issue Dr Archer with an appointment letter and invite him to the next Panel meeting in November. 

20. The Panel discussed the potential for expanding its membership for the remaining year, but concluded that there might be more merit in inviting experts to present at forthcoming meetings, to enable a broad intake of views and expertise to help shape the final evidence base informing the toolkit. The Panel asked the Secretariat to scope potential suitable speakers. 

DECISION: The Panel agree to invite speakers to future meetings to share expertise and support evidence gathering

Action point 6: Secretariat to scope potential speakers to invite to forthcoming meetings. 

Agenda Item 6 – Next Steps summary

21.The Panel explored what the focus would be for their upcoming meetings.

22.November 2019 meeting will focus on:

  1. The Panel will meet the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform to discuss previous work and the agreed future direction. 
  2. The Secretariat will prepare a first draft policy toolkit for consideration and a list of potentials items to consider for a case study 
  3. The Panel will provide input on potential engagement around the draft policy toolkit 

Agenda Item 7 – AOB & date of next meetings

23. Arrangements have been made for a meeting on Thursday 14 November 2019 at this venue (COSLA)

24. The Chair noted that it would be good to have dates firmed up for the remainder of the Panel’s time, up to Summer 2020. The Secretariat was asked to select dates and circulate to the Panel.

Action point 7: Secretariat to confirm date and time for all forthcoming meetings. 

Back to top