Packaging - extended producer responsibility: equality impact assessment

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

Key Findings

41. The impacts identified through the above process are primarily related to the effects of packaging EPR on local authority household recycling services. Because a primary purpose of packaging EPR is to fund efficient and effective collection services for household packaging waste, this should be a largely positive impact. Another important theme was the impact of mandatory "Recycle/Do not recycle" labelling on particular groups. Again, because the purpose of this change is to increase simplicity and consistency of labelling, this should be a largely positive impact. Consultation responses did not raise any specific potential impacts or evidence in-scope of this assessment.

42. The potential for cost pass-through of the increased costs to producers has been considered as part of the Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment, which notes that the cost increase per product is unlikely to be high enough to change purchasing habits. Cost pass-through could have a disproportionate impact on some people with protected characteristics who may already experience a higher cost of living and have a requirement for certain forms of food packaging for independent living. Greater granularity of data would be required to assess the impacts on specific people, products and packaging formats.

43. This impact assessment includes review of the published evidence available and gathered in relation to the protected characteristics listed within the Equality Act (2010): age, disability, sex, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, and religion or belief.[28]

44. It is important to note that the protected characteristics listed, along with other socio-economic considerations, are not independent of each other and some people may have to deal with complex and interconnected issues related to disadvantage at any one time.

45. The potential issues identified relate specifically to Age, Disability and Race.


46. All in-scope packaging will be required to be labelled "Recycle" or "Do not recycle" (with certain exceptions including secondary and tertiary packaging which is generally not supplied to the consumer). Guidance will be published to ensure labelling is used in a standardised way, is legible and can be easily understood. Older people may be affected by changes to labelling and consideration must be given for the need for inclusive communications, especially with respect to recyclability labelling. The greater simplicity and consistency of this binary label is expected to help communicate more clearly whether an item of packaging is recyclable.

47. There may be differences in recycling habits across age groups which may also indicate a need for targeted communications.[29]

48. Local authorities may need to make some changes to their services to ensure that they are efficient and effective. This will depend in part on decision-making by the scheme administrator, which should be clearly communicated to local authorities. They will be required to maximise participation and ensure quality of material collected so it is more likely to be recycled. They will be expected to communicate with households prior to service changes and in a targeted manner to optimise recycling. Older people are less likely to regularly use the internet or access digital media,[30] so inclusive communications beyond digital means will be required to ensure the success of the scheme.

49. All Scottish authorities provide an assisted collection service where households notify them of difficulties presenting containers. It is estimated between 4% and 10% of households receive an assisted uplift in Scotland, varying by local authority.[31] Any changes to current services will need to be communicated to the elderly or to any disabled person who receives an assisted uplift from their local authority. Responsibility for this is with the local authority.

50. Average income may be lower in younger and higher age brackets.[32] As such, any cost pass-through associated with packaging EPR could impact on these individuals more than others. See discussion in the Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment.


51. Some disabled people could be disproportionately affected by changes to packaging and recycling services. Instructions provided on packaging, and explanations of household disposal services, will need to be accessible. Those with certain disabilities, such as visual and hearing impairments, dyslexia, and other learning difficulties, may require additional communications and considerations to adjust to service changes. Inclusive communication methods will be required including non-digital means.

52. Some individuals may rely on specific packaging formats; for example, pre-prepared foods to maintain independent living. People with certain learning disabilities may be selective eaters or have phases of only being willing to choose from a small selection of foods and drinks. This is often associated with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Some people may also accept only processed foods with familiar packaging or may find it difficult to try new foods or be distressed in some mealtime environments, resulting in food refusal.[33] Fee modulation for non-recyclable packaging materials and formats could impact the availability or cost of specific formats, particularly if packaging was considered unnecessary, or the material was difficult to recycle. This would place a disproportionate impact on some people with protected characteristics. There is a lack of placed-on-the-market data and detailed attribution to the shopping habits and personal requirements of those with protected characteristics. This would require a level of granularity and assessment which is not currently considered proportionate.

53. Average income may be lower in households where people have a limiting condition.[34] Therefore any cost pass-through associated with packaging EPR regulations could affect these individuals, especially considering the increasing cost of living. See discussion in the Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment.

54. Inclusive communications will be an essential component of the packaging EPR scheme design to ensure maximum awareness amongst citizens and allow effective participation in local waste and recycling services.


55. Any changes to services and communications associated with reforms arising from packaging EPR should be made accessible in multiple languages.

56. Average income may be lower in households where people are from ethnic minorities.[35] Therefore any potential cost pass through associated with packaging EPR could impact on these individuals. Impacts on the price of goods are discussed in the Fairer Scotland Assessment.



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