Description of Policy
Title of policy/ strategy/ legislation
Introducing Market Restrictions on Problematic Single-Use Plastic Items in Scotland
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
Don McGillivray, Deputy Director, Environmental Quality and Circular Economy Division
Environment and Forestry
New policy and/or legislation
The Scottish Government intends to lay regulations before the Scottish Parliament to introduce market restrictions on problematic single-use plastic items in 2021.
1. This review considers potential equality impacts associated with a market restriction on those single-use plastic products included in Article 5 of the EU Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (2019/904) (referred to as "SUP Directive hereafter).
2. The following single-use items are included:
- Plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks)
- Plastic beverage stirrers
- Plastic plates
- Plastic straws (with some exemptions)
- Plastic balloon sticks
- Food and beverage containers and cups for beverages made of expanded polystyrene (EPS/XPS), including caps, covers and lids
3. The market restriction would also extend to all products made from oxo-degradable plastics. Specific items made using this material have not been identified. However, research suggests they are used primarily to make mulching films and some plastic bottles and bags. Considering these items as part of the screening exercise indicates they are unlikely to have a significant impact for any of the protected characteristics groups.
4. Note that plastic-stemmed cotton bud sticks are also included in Article 5 of the SUP Directive. However the Scottish Government has already applied measures to restrict the manufacture and sale of these items. Therefore, this item will not be considered in this impact assessment.
5. The following definitions, taken from the Directive are applied to this equality assessment:
- 'plastic' means a material consisting of a polymer as defined in point 5 of Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006, to which additives or other substances may have been added, and which can function as a main structural component of final products, with the exception of natural polymers that have not been chemically modified;
- 'single-use plastic product' means a product that is made wholly or partly from plastic and that is not conceived, designed or placed on the market to accomplish, within its life span, multiple trips or rotations by being returned to a producer for refill or re-used for the same purpose for which it was conceived;
- 'oxo-degradable plastic' means plastic materials that include additives which, through oxidation, lead to the fragmentation of the plastic material into micro-fragments or to chemical decomposition
6. Plastic straws used for containing granular medicines may be considered as packaging and are not used for drinking. They are therefore not considered here. Similarly, exemptions for medical purposes and in relation to implantable medical devices are not included.5 6
Who will it affect?
7. The following nine protected characteristics are considered.
- Gender reassignment;
- Pregnancy and maternity;
- Sexual orientation; and
- Marriage and Civil Partnership;
8. The purpose of focussing on these protected characteristics is to:
- Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
- Advance equality of opportunity; and
- Foster good relations.
What might prevent the desired outcomes being achieved?
9. Achieving the desired outcomes will be dependent on businesses and consumers adopting new behaviours. The measures are designed to stimulate this behaviour change but are not the only factors which influence business and consumer behaviour.
10. Consideration has been given as far as possible to potential impacts based on the evidence gathered during this partial equality impact assessment (EQIA) process leading up to the public consultation.