Packaging - extended producer responsibility: equality impact assessment

Equality impact assessment (EQIA) for the introduction of extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging.

Policy Alignment


26. Packaging EPR has strong cross-policy links to Scottish, UK and European legislation and strategic direction.

27. The circular economy contributes directly to the Environment and Economy outcomes under the National Performance Framework. Directly applicable National Indicators include:[13]

  • Carbon footprint
  • Natural capital
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Waste generated
  • Marine environment
  • Biodiversity
  • Scotland's reputation
  • Perception of local area
  • Condition of protected nature sites

28. Resource use and waste generated are recognised as key sources of greenhouse gas generation, and the Scottish Government reports on progress against both territorial and consumption emissions. Packaging EPR will contribute to objectives set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009,[14] as amended through the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019,[15] and the Climate Change Plan Update 2018-2032.[16] The legislation establishes a target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2045.

29. In 2015, the Scottish Government committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The ambition behind the goals is to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Packaging EPR will have a positive impact on a number of these goals, most explicitly Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.[17]

30. Scotland is transitioning to a circular economy. In February 2016, "Making Things Last: A circular economy strategy for Scotland" was published.[18] This overarching strategy integrated the key elements of the Zero Waste Plan[19] and Safeguarding Scotland's resources[20] report and built on Scotland's zero-waste and resource efficiency agendas. Preventing waste arising, reusing and recycling products and materials were central requirements to accelerating a circular economy.

31. The Scottish Government implemented Article 5 of the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) on 1st June 2022. The regulations introduced market restrictions for single-use plastic cutlery, plates, beverage stirrers, straws and balloon sticks as well as single-use food containers and cups made of expanded polystyrene.

32. The Deposit and Return Scheme Scotland Regulations, passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2020, aim to help improve the quality and quantity of recycling, reduce litter and achieve Scottish Government climate change targets. DRS is a form of producer responsibility. Until 1 January 2028, drinks containers (excluding those made of glass) are exempt from certain obligations under the regulations, including disposal costs, recyclability assessments, and the requirement to provide recycling information; they are subject to data collection and reporting obligations and recycling obligations. From that date, if there is no operational DRS in any part of the UK, the exclusions for drinks containers will fall away so that drinks containers will be subject to all of the obligations in the Regulations. The four nations have agreed to a revised implementation timeline of October 2027 for an aligned DRS scheme across the UK.

33. The Circular Economy Bill was introduced in June 2023 and is planned to complete its parliamentary passage by the end of June 2024. The bill aims to support Scotland's transition to a zero waste and circular economy, significantly increase reuse and recycling rates, and modernise and improve waste and recycling services.

34. The 2020 update to the Climate Change Plan, and Programme for Government also commit to publication of a Circular Economy and Waste Route Map.[21] An updated draft Circular Economy and Waste Route Map was published for consultation in January 2024. The Route Map is designed to drive progress in three key areas:[22]

  • Setting the strategic direction and laying foundations for delivering a system-wide, comprehensive vision for Scotland's circular economy to 2030;
  • Setting out priority actions from now to 2030 to accelerate more sustainable use of resources across the waste hierarchy; and
  • Reducing emissions associated with resources and waste.


35. In 2022, the UK Government implemented a new tax on businesses that produce or import plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content. [23] This aims to incentivise businesses to use recycled materials in the production of plastic packaging, which will create greater demand for recycled inputs and in turn stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste. The Plastic Packaging Tax should complement packaging EPR in providing businesses with the right incentives to design and use plastic packaging that is easier to recycle, driving the overall development of more-sustainable packaging.


36. An amendment to the EU Waste Framework Directive 2018 set a 70% packaging recycling target by the end of 2030.[24] The Scottish Government, and our partners in the other UK governments, aim to exceed this target through packaging EPR.

37. In May of 2018 the European Commission's Circular Economy Package was approved. The legislation aims to move supply chains towards a circular economy maintaining the value of products, materials and resources in the economy for as long as possible. This includes more ambitious recycling targets and full cost recovery of recycling costs from producers. The Scottish Government has committed to meeting or exceeding the EU's environmental standards after leaving the EU.[25] Packaging EPR will contribute to meeting this commitment.

38. A new European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation is close to adoption, which includes packaging reduction targets, places restrictions on the use of certain plastic packaging types, sets reuse and refill targets, and requires all packaging (with exemptions) to be recyclable.[26]



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