Market restrictions on single-use plastic items: consultation analysis

An analysis report summarising and describing the responses to the public consultation on introducing market restrictions on single-use plastic items in Scotland.

8 Other comments (Q8)

8.1 The final question in the consultation, Question 8, invited respondents to make any other comments relevant to the consultation:

Question 8: Do you have any other comments that you would like to make, relevant to the subject of this consultation, that you have not covered in your answers to other questions?

8.2 This was an open question, and 357 respondents – 62 organisations and 295 individuals – made comments. In addition, this question was addressed by 1,902 individuals who took part in the Friends of the Earth Scotland campaign.

8.3 Most commonly, respondents used their comments at Question 8 to offer their broad endorsement of the Scottish Government's proposals on market restrictions, or to emphasise the need for urgent action in this policy area. Such comments were made by individuals; environmental charities, third sector and community sector organisations; and campaign respondents, in particular.

8.4 Whilst some respondents made only brief statements of support, others who provided more detailed comments often called on the Scottish Government to take stronger or additional action to address the problem of plastic, and to facilitate a move to a more sustainable 'greener' economy more generally. They wished to see the phasing out of all non-essential single-use plastic, a move away from single-use to reusable items, and an overall reduction in plastic production and consumption. Amongst other things, these respondents called for the (re)introduction of the Circular Economy Bill to the Scottish Parliament.[17]

8.5 Respondents emphasised the benefits that such an approach could bring to the economy in Scotland. They noted the importance of investment in research and development to drive innovation and the required change in the economy, and the positive impact that this could have on the employment market. Respondents who participated in the Friends of the Earth Scotland campaign urged the Scottish Government to use the Grangemouth Future Industry Board to 'map out a Just Transition and strong future for Grangemouth with the phasing out of fossil fuel-based plastic production'.

8.6 Respondents also put forward a wide range of other actions to address the policy agenda in this area. As noted elsewhere in this report, these included:

  • Regulation of standards and labelling requirements regarding environmental impact and disposal of items
  • A range of actions to bring about changes in consumer habits and behaviours and facilitate a shift away from a throwaway culture to a more sustainable economy and society, including education and awareness raising, and incentives to encourage reuse and recycling in all settings
  • A range of actions to bring about change in industry and the business and retail sectors, including legislation, EPR schemes, taxation, incentives, information, guidance, support, etc.
  • Improved waste management, recycling and reprocessing infrastructure to ensure the availability of good consistent services across the country, and improved use of recyclate – respondents said Scotland could learn from practice in other countries, and they provided a wide range of examples of initiatives from Europe and elsewhere.

8.7 There were also further suggestions for items that might be covered by the proposed market restrictions, and how the restrictions might be defined and designed.

8.8 Some respondents (mainly individuals) highlighted the importance of the local economy to this policy agenda, in ensuring access to opportunities for consumers to purchase refills of products or loose goods by weight using their own containers, repair services or freely available drinking water, etc.

8.9 Alongside this perspective, respondents from the manufacturing, packaging and food and drink sectors often also expressed support in principle for the aim of reducing the use of single-use plastics, but argued for a more limited or more cautious approach. Organisations in this group often described the ongoing development work and progress being made towards (i) reducing reliance on single-use plastics, (ii) improving recyclability, and (iii) improving the environmental impact of products. However, there was concern about the scope of proposals included in the consultation paper and the implications of moving ahead without alternatives in place. Some also called for a common approach across the UK.

8.10 Finally, a much smaller group of respondents (re)stated their opposition to the proposed market restrictions on the grounds that single-use plastics served a useful purpose, that taking the proposed action was not a current priority, or that there was no need for Scotland to go beyond the requirements of the SUP Directive.

Consultation and engagement

8.11 A range of respondents stressed the importance of further consultation and engagement on the proposals with different groups – including disabled people, equality groups, and relevant community groups – and of collaborative working between stakeholders and communities on the policy issues under consideration. Several industry and public sector organisations, and community groups indicated an interest in further engagement with the Scottish Government.



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