National litter and flytipping consultation: equality impact assessment

Equality impact assessment (EQIA) for the proposed actions for the National and Litter Flytipping Strategy.

Stage 1: Framing

Results of framing exercise

A preliminary framing workshop was conducted by Zero Waste Scotland. However at this stage the strategy does not include specific measures and therefore the capacity to identify relevant impacts is limited. It was possible to identify some high-level considerations which will evolve and develop alongside the strategy.

Summary of activities:

  • Framing workshop: Zero Waste Scotland
  • Evidence-gathering: quantitative and qualitative data and evidence were sourced, including evidence from existing large surveys.

Summary of findings

This document provides an overview of relevant considerations for protected characteristics groups. The assessment of impacts is appropriate to the current stage in the development of the strategy.

In this EQIA we look at published evidence available and gathered so far 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.[9]

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.

We have not identified any negative impacts associated with the overarching outcome of the strategy at this stage. However, impacts of the specific actions identified in the strategy will need to be assessed when they are available.

There may be positive impacts related to:


Younger people may litter more, but they are also impacted more by poor local environmental quality.[10] Therefore a reduction in littering may have a disproportionately positive impact.


There is a correlation between disability and poverty[11] and therefore it is more likely that disabled people may live in more deprived areas, where litter is reported to be more abundant.3 A reduction in litter associated with the strategy would therefore potentially have a disproportionately positive impact.

Interaction with Other Policies (Draft or Existing)

Marine Litter Strategy for Scotland

The Scottish Government launched A Marine Litter Strategy for Scotland in 2014[12] which identified five strategic directions and 40 measures to address the impact of litter in Scotland’s seas. The Marine Litter Strategy was developed to build upon the original National Litter Strategy with a number of the strategy’s directions and measures being a co-ordinated consideration and actions being delivered in parallel. The Marine Litter Strategy is also currently under revision to reflect the need for increased focus on litter removal with the latest scientific reports and evidence-based policies being taken into consideration. The revision of the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy will complement the revision of the Marine Litter Strategy, while the two strategies have distinct themes and outcomes, both are principled on litter prevention. The recent Scottish Litter Summit focussed on developing a collaborative approach to tackling litter and reversing the decline in Scotland’s local environments. A key theme to emerge from the Summit was the need for the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy to be closely aligned to the refreshed Marine Litter Strategy to ensure the systemic nature of littering is addressed holistically.[13]

Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (CoPLAR)

This Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (CoPLAR) provides practical guidance on fulfilling the duties under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 Section 89.[14] A review of CoPLAR was completed and replaced with the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (Scotland) 2018[15] as part of the commitments set out in the 2014 National Litter Strategy. CoPLAR 2018 provides guidance to relevant bodies on how to meet their statutory responsibilities. It promotes a preventative approach towards litter and flytipping, freeing up money for other public services. The revised National Litter and Flytipping Strategy is being developed around four key themes: behaviour change, services and infrastructure, enforcement and data and research with litter and flytipping prevention being the central aim of each theme. CoPLAR 2018 has a clear focus on prevention and endorses preventative actions under themes paralleled with the revision to the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy, including: communications and engagement, behaviour change, infrastructure and service optimisation and enforcement.[16]

EU Single-Use Plastics Directive

In the 2021-22 Programme for Government[17], the Scottish Government confirmed plans to introduce a ban on the single-use plastic items most commonly found littered on European beaches. Regulations will be introduced before the end of 2021 to end the supply and manufacture in Scotland of certain single use items, with limited exceptions where absolutely necessary, for example to ensure the new rules do not disadvantage disabled people. In Scotland, plastic represents 20% of all terrestrial litter[18], it is the most commonly found littered item on Scottish beaches (nine out of the top ten items contain plastic)[19] and items littered on land in Scotland are now thought to constitute 90% of plastic in Scottish seas.[20] The Scottish Government is fully supportive of the EU vision of phasing-out single-use plastics wherever possible and the proposed introduction of market restrictions on certain single-use plastic items forms part of a package of wider measures being taken forward by Scottish Ministers to address marine litter and support a shift away from Scotland’s throwaway culture. By introducing a market restriction on certain single-use plastics, this will contribute to the achievement of Scotland’s existing waste policies and targets and will also help to reduce single-use plastic litter in Scotland’s terrestrial and marine environments, complementing the revised National Litter and Flytipping and Marine Litter strategies.

The Scottish Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)

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.[21] In May 2020, the Scottish Parliament passed regulations to establish a Deposit Return Scheme, with a target of capturing at least 90% of in-scope containers from the third full year of operation onwards. The National Litter and Flytipping and Marine Litter Strategies both focus on prevention as the main solution for littering in Scotland, the implementation of the Scottish Deposit Return Scheme will be a key mechanism in tackling prevalent, highly visible, and expensive litter streams.

UK packaging producer responsibility system reform

The UK Government and the Devolved Administrations have committed to reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system.

This policy is intended to ensure that the producers of packaging are responsible for 100% of the costs of treating it at the end of its useful life after deducting the income from the sale of materials (this is known as ‘full net cost recovery’). Dealing with litter is part of the cost that producers will be obligated to pay, and the impact of that will depend heavily on the final details of the payment mechanism and incentive design. In addition, if producers choose to use less packaging to reduce their costs under the scheme, this could impact on litter quantities.

Scottish climate change policy

Litter and flytipping contributes to climate change in two main ways. Litter and flytipping are wasted

resources that have been lost from the circular economy. As well as the embodied energy of the resource itself being wasted, further energy is required to collect and process the litter or flytipping, most of which can then only be sent to energy from waste or landfill, due to the poor quality of the material.[22] The update to the National Litter and Flytipping strategy will contribute to the objectives of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009[23] and the Climate change plan: Third report on proposals and policies (RPP 3) 2018-2032.[24] The recent five-year review of the national litter strategy "Towards a litter free Scotland: a strategic approach to higher quality local environments” also highlighted the future need to “link littering to the climate change conversation” and set out a recommendation to prioritise mapping the interaction of litter and flytipping with climate change policy.[25]

Scottish biodiversity policy

The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy was published in 2004[26] and was supplemented by The Scottish Government's 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity (2013)[27] both forming the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. The objectives of the 2020 challenge were to sustain and enhance the ecosystems on both land and at sea to maximise benefits to Scotland through natural diversity and economic growth. In addition, the Scottish Government recently commissioned research into the development of a new single high-level biodiversity indicator covering marine and terrestrial habitats to measure trends and replace the existing biodiversity indicator in the National Performance Framework Scotland.[28] A main consideration in developing biodiversity indicators is measuring the impact of human activities upon the natural environment in Scotland including littering. Litter poses a serious risk to biodiversity and marine ecosystems in Scotland. Reducing the amount of litter in terrestrial and marine environments will ensure the continued prosperity of our biodiversity in Scotland. The revised National Litter Strategy will contribute to the ambitions set out in the Scottish biodiversity policy through targeted litter prevention measures. The recent five-year review of the national litter strategy "Towards a litter free Scotland: a strategic approach to higher quality local environments” also recommended prioritising the mapping of litter and flytipping policy with biodiversity policy.[29]

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the Scottish Government signed up to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.[30] 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. An updated National Litter and Flytipping Strategy could have a positive impact on a number of these goals, most significantly Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and Goal 14: Life Below Water.

Extent/Level of EQIA required

We recommend that EQIA be viewed as a live document to be developed alongside the strategy. This will involve additional engagement over the consultation period.

The evidence captured in the next section entitled ‘Data and evidence gathering’ has been drawn from a range of sources and includes both quantitative and qualitative information.



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