Publication - Strategy/plan

Marine litter strategy for Scotland

Published: 19 Aug 2014
Marine Scotland Directorate
Part of:
Marine and fisheries

A strategy to develop measures to minimise the amount of litter entering the marine and coastal environment.

Marine litter strategy for Scotland
Annex B Scottish Marine Litter Strategy Final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment

Annex B Scottish Marine Litter Strategy Final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment

Final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment ( BRIA)

Title of Proposal

Scottish Marine Litter Strategy

Purpose and intended effect

  • Background
    Marine litter is a global problem which can be a threat to ecosystems, has a socio-economic cost (impacting on tourism and inward investment) and it can also pose a threat to human health and marine wildlife. During the Scottish Parliament's consideration of the Marine (Scotland) Act a commitment was given to develop a Marine Litter Strategy.
  • Objective
    The Marine Litter Strategy seeks to build on the strengths of existing measures, identify proposals that will help overcome weaknesses, and maximise opportunities and minimise threats to addressing the levels of litter present in the coastal and marine environment.
  • Rationale for Government intervention
    A research report commissioned by the Scottish Government found that the approximate economic cost of the marine litter problem in Scotland is £16.8 million per annum [20] . The Marine Litter Strategy provides an opportunity to build on current initiatives to reduce marine litter and consider additional work at the national level to enhance and take forward the overall aims of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

    Tackling marine litter supports our National Performance Framework objective of valuing and enjoying our built and natural environment and protecting it and enhancing it for future generations.


  • Within Government
    Discussions have taken place with Marine Scotland Analytical Unit, Scottish Government Zero Waste Team, Scottish Government Planning and Architecture Division, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, as part of the development of the Marine Litter Strategy.
  • Public and Business Consultation
    As part of a 4-month consultation on a draft Marine Litter Strategy. Informal discussions have been held with a variety of organisations that have a policy interest in marine litter. A BRIA was produced to support the consultation which provided a further opportunity for individuals and businesses to express their views.

It should be noted that Scotland's Marine Litter Strategy will not of itself

introduce any new regulatory burdens. The Scottish Government will consult widely on any future regulations considered under the Strategy with full Business Regulatory Impact Assessments produced as required.


Option A: Do Nothing - Business as usual

This option assumes that existing work by Government continues but is not supplemented by further work.

Key existing areas of work include:

EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. This Directive requires Member States to achieve good environmental status ( GES) in their marine waters by 2020. The Directive prescribes the key steps which Member States must take to achieve GES:

  • The establishment and implementation of a monitoring programme for on-going assessment by July 2014; and
  • The development of a programme of measures by 2015, which must be implemented by the end of 2016.

The Directive defines GES in terms of 11 descriptors. Descriptor 10 requires litter to be at levels where the "properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment". This will require a better understanding of the environmental impacts of marine litter, and if necessary, action will be taken to reduce the amount of litter in the marine environment.

The outcome of a joint consultation on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, in 2012, proposed that the target for marine litter on coastlines should be an "Overall reduction in the number of visible litter items within specific categories/types on coastlines from 2010 levels by 2020".

Scotland's Zero Waste Plan, June 2010. This sets out the Scottish Government's vision for a zero waste society where all waste is seen as a resource; waste is minimised; valuable resources are not disposed of in landfills, and most waste is sorted, leaving only limited amounts to be treated. To achieve this vision the Plan sets out radical new measures, including:

  • Development of a Waste Prevention Programme for all wastes, ensuring the prevention and reuse of waste is central to all our actions and policies.
  • Landfill bans for specific waste types therefore reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and capturing the value from these resources.
  • Separate collections of specific waste types, including food, to avoid contaminating other materials, increasing reuse and recycling opportunities and contributing to our renewable energy targets.
  • Two new targets that will apply to all waste: 70 per cent target recycled, and maximum 5 per cent sent to landfill, both by 2025.
  • Restrictions on the input to all energy from waste facilities, in the past only applicable to municipal waste, therefore encouraging greater waste prevention, reuse and recycling.
  • Encouraging local authorities and the resource management sector to establish good practice commitments and work together to create consistent waste management services, benefitting businesses and the public.
  • Improved information on different waste sources, types and management highlighting further economic and environmental opportunities.
  • Measure the carbon impacts of waste to prioritise the recycling of resources which offer the greatest environmental and climate change outcomes.

Option B: Adopt Marine Litter Strategy

Take more radical steps to reduce marine litter by adopting the Marine Litter Strategy in addition to the key existing areas of work in option A. The Marine Litter Strategy outlines five Strategic Directions and possible areas for action. Some of the actions identified would need further consultation, with appropriate Impact Assessments. The table below outlines some of the actions identified in the Strategy; whether further consultation would take place before implementation; and whether there is an impact on or cost to business.

Table 1: Business impacts of Marine Litter Strategy actions and delivery mechanism

Proposed action

Further consultation?

Impact on/cost to business?

Education and awareness raising.


No direct impact.

Encourage producers to change design of products present in the marine environment including alternatives to plastic in cotton bud sticks and plastic micro beads in personal care products.


Depends on whether any further action is taken
and what the nature of
any action is.

Expand Fishing for Litter initiative to contribute to a reduction in marine litter.


No direct impact.

Incorporate marine litter reduction into regional marine plans under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.


Possibly, depending on waste prevention actions added.

Seek investment for more environmental and clean technologies that facilitate recovery, recycling and environmental monitoring in coastal and maritime industries.


Potentially implications
for businesses,
depending on nature of
any further action.

Alignment of Non-Governmental Organisations, Scottish, UK and international monitoring programmes and data.


No direct impact.

Determine a baseline for coastal litter, seabed and water column which can be used for Marine Strategy Framework Directive reporting purposes.


No direct impact.

Prioritise an initial evaluation on the current state of research to give a scientific and technical basis for monitoring, knowledge gaps and priority areas for research.


No direct impact.

Develop/test standardised monitoring approaches to allow comparisons at the National and EU scales.


No direct impact.

Continue to use Marine Scotland research vessels to undertake seabed monitoring of marine litter during scientific trawls, and consider additional monitoring opportunities in other marine activities.


No direct impact.

The approach for delivery of the Strategy is based around a medium cost, networked approach with central lead body, Marine Scotland to drive actions forward.


Potential financial implications for third
sector organisations, without additional
resources being made available, in this approach to delivery of the Strategy.

  • Costs and Benefits

Sectors and groups affected

  • Users of the marine environment and coastal communities.
  • Marine fisheries and coastal aquaculture.
  • Shipping and offshore industries.
  • Local authorities.
  • Householders.
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
  • Scottish Water.


Option A - Do Nothing - Business as usual

Achievement of Good Environmental Status under Descriptor 10 of EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Option B - Adopt Marine Litter Strategy

Potential benefits from Scotland's Marine Litter Strategy include:

  • Complements action under Scotland's National Litter Strategy.
  • Contributes to international action through the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
  • Co-ordination of initiatives aimed at reducing marine litter.
  • Increased environmental awareness generally, amongst business and householders.
  • Opportunity to address data capture at Scottish scale.
  • Positive effect on national and local economies, including improvements to the tourism industry and marine recreation, the sea fishing sector, and a decrease in litter clean-up costs.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment report, and Post Adoption Statement, which were produced to support consultation on the Marine Litter Strategy, outline the impact on the environment of the Marine Litter Strategy.


Option A - Do Nothing - Business as usual

  • The Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD) requires Member States to develop marine strategies with the aim of achieving GES in European marine waters. Additional costs will be dependent on the programme of measures that is yet to be finalised. The attached report sets out an initial economic assessment of the potential measures necessary to achieve GES under the MSFD:
  • Scotland's Zero Waste Plan, published in 2010, set the strategic direction for waste policy for Scotland. Further information can be found in the attached report 'Economic Assessment of the Zero Waste Plan for Scotland' is available at:

Option B - Adopt Marine Litter Strategy

As indicated in Table 1, a number of the actions outlined in the Marine Litter Strategy would have little or no impact on business. Costs will be determined and set out in Business and Regulatory Impact Assessments prepared as part of any future consultation exercise.

  • Scottish Firms Impact Test

Any changes to be adopted under the Marine Litter Strategy will be fully consulted on and will take account of any costs to Scottish Firms.

  • Competition Assessment

There is no direct impact on competition arising from the Strategy at this stage.

Will the proposal directly limit the number or range of suppliers?


Will the proposal indirectly limit the number or range of suppliers?


Will the proposal limit the ability of suppliers to compete?


Will the proposal reduce suppliers' incentives to compete vigorously?


  • Test run of business forms

No new forms are proposed at this stage.

Legal Aid Impact Test

We have liaised with the Scottish Government Civil Law and Legal System Division and it is agreed that the proposals will not have a significant impact on the legal aid fund.

Enforcement, sanctions and monitoring

There are no direct sanctions arising from the Marine Litter Strategy.

As outlined in the Marine Litter Strategy, as the Strategy will form part of the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, it is proposed that the Strategy timeframe should be closely aligned with that of the Marine Strategy Framework.

Implementation and delivery plan

It is proposed that the initial period for the Marine Litter Strategy would be to 2020 with the achievement of Good Environmental Status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. A review of its effectiveness should be completed and further measures considered at this stage.

Post-implementation review

A review is proposed for 2015-2016 to coincide with work on the development of a programme of measures, with a further review to follow in 2018. The vision for the strategy (and any revisions to the Strategy) could extend beyond 2020 with any further measures considered at this stage. Progress will be measured throughout, and action adjusted where necessary

Summary and recommendation

Option A (existing work)

  • Work highlighted under option A will continue.

Option B

  • Scottish Government is committed to developing a Marine Litter Strategy. The Strategy sets out a number of actions that the Scottish Government, and others could take to address the levels of marine and coastal litter in Scotland. The benefits and costs will be updated as policies are further developed, and an economic analysis will be completed as part of the final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment.

It is the recommendation of the Scottish Government that existing work as set out under Option A should continue with additional measures, as informed by responses to the consultation, considered under Option B.

Table 2: Benefits and costs of each option considered




A (existing work)

Achievement of Good Environmental Status under Descriptor 10 of EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Cots dependent on MSFD programme of measures which is still to be finalised. (Many of cost estimates currently based on scenarios rather than informed estimates).

B (Other measures as set out in Marine Litter Strategy)

Benefits arising will principally be reduced costs to the economy and society. Specific benefits will be considered and set out in any Business Regulatory Impact Assessment developed as part of future statutory consultation exercises for individual actions.

Costs will be determined and set out in Business Regulatory Impact Assessment prepared as part of any future consultation exercise for individual actions.

Declaration and publication

I have read the impact assessment and I am satisfied that, given the available evidence, it represents a reasonable view of the likely costs, benefits and impact of the leading options. I am satisfied that business impact will be assessed with the support of businesses in Scotland.


Signature of Richard Lochhead

Richard Lochhead MSP



Scottish Government Contact point:

Nikki Milne, Marine Scotland (