Ban on manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds: proposal

A consultation to gather views from stakeholders on the introduction of a ban on the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds in Scotland.

Part 1 – About This Consultation

Topic of this consultation

This consultation is seeking the views of stakeholders on the addition of secondary legislation under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to introduce a ban on the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds in Scotland. The proposed bans aim to further protect our seas from plastic pollution.

Scope of this consultation

The proposal outlined in this consultation relates to cotton buds that have a stem made with or containing plastic. "Plastic" means a synthetic polymeric substance that can be moulded, extruded or physically manipulated into various solid forms and that retains its final manufactured shape during use in its intended applications. The proposed ban would cover the manufacture of these items, their supply, offer to supply or possession for the purpose of supply.

Geographical extent

Environmental protection is a devolved matter and this consultation applies to the introduction of bans on the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds in Scotland only. The appropriate administration should be approached for further information of their intentions regarding these products in other parts of the UK.

Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment

There has already been a move from plastic-stemmed cotton buds to biodegradable alternatives by many of the larger retailers and manufacturers, showing that the alternatives are commercially viable. Initial investigations have concluded that there are no manufacturers of these products in Scotland, however these products are still available to buy. It is therefore expected that due to the previous conversion of many businesses to alternative products that there will be minimal impacts resulting from the proposed bans. This consultation asks a question in relation to this issue to help prepare the necessary Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment which will be needed to inform the parliamentary process.


Anyone may reply to this consultation. The Scottish Government would particularly like to hear from organisations and individuals involved in and concerned with the production or sale of cotton buds, whether plastic-stemmed or not.

Those who have an interest include cotton bud manufacturers, trade representatives, retailers and wholesalers, environmental groups, waste management organisations, scientists and members of the public.

Body Responsible for this consultation

The Marine Litter Team of Marine Scotland, part of the Scottish Government is responsible for this consultation.


Reflecting the importance of the issue of marine plastic pollution, widespread awareness amongst relevant stakeholders and a wish to introduce legislation at the earliest opportunity, this consultation will run for an abbreviated period of eight weeks. 27 April – 22 June 2018.

How to make an enquiry

If you have any queries about this consultation please contact Marine Scotland's Marine Litter Team at or call 0131 244 3392.

The Scottish Government consultation process

Consultation is an essential part of the policy-making process. It gives us the opportunity to consider your opinion and expertise on a proposed area of work. You can find all our consultations online: Each consultation details the issues under consideration, as well as a way for you to give us your views, either online, by email or by post.

Responses will be analysed and used as part of the decision making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. We will publish a report of responses for every consultation. Responses received may:

  • indicate the need for policy development or review
  • inform the development of a particular policy
  • help decisions to be made between alternative policy proposals
  • be used to finalise legislation before it is implemented

While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant public body.

Responding to this consultation

We are inviting responses to this consultation by 22 June 2018. Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government's consultation platform, Citizen Space. You can view and respond to this consultation online at Responses can be saved and returned to while the consultation is still open. Please ensure that consultation responses are submitted before the closing date of 22 June 2018. If you are unable to respond online, please send your response with a completed Respondent Information Form (see "Handling your Response" below) to:

Cotton Bud Consultation
Scottish Government
Marine Litter Team, 4 th Floor
5 Atlantic Quay
150 Broomielaw
G2 8LU

Handling of your response

If you respond using Citizen Space (, you will be directed to the Respondent Information Form. Please indicate how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are happy for your response to be published. If you are unable to respond via Citizen Space, please complete and return the Respondent Information Form included in this document. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly. All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.

Next steps in the Process

Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made available to the public at If you use Citizen Space to respond, you will receive a copy of your response via email.

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to inform the decision making process. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so.

Comments and complaints

If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them to


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