Publication - Impact assessment

UK packaging producer responsibility system reform: partial equality impact assessment

Partial equality impact assessment (EQIA) published alongside the four countries consultation on packaging extended producer responsibility.

20 page PDF

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20 page PDF

336.4 kB

Contents
UK packaging producer responsibility system reform: partial equality impact assessment
Reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system - Partial Equality Impact Assessment

20 page PDF

336.4 kB

Reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system - Partial Equality Impact Assessment

Description of Policy

Title of policy/ strategy/ legislation

Secondary legislation to reform the existing UK packaging producer responsibility system.

Minister

Roseanna Cunningham, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.

Lead Official

Donald McGillivray, Deputy Director, Environmental Quality and Circular Economy.

SG Officials involved in EQIA

Name Team
Mark Cook Circular Economy Unit
Tim Chant Circular Economy Unit

Gita Anand Resas: Environment and Rural Analysis Unit

Rhys Howell Resas: Environment and Rural Analysis Unit

Directorate

Environment and Forestry Directorate.

New policy and/or legislation

Revision to an existing policy.

The existing UK packaging extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme was introduced in 1997, prior to devolution. The scheme is currently under review. This review is a joint initiative between the administrations for Scotland, England (UK Government), Wales and Northern Ireland. After consultation, the Scottish Government, in alignment with the UK Government and other devolved administrations, intends to enact revised EPR legislation.

Screening

Background and policy aims

Over 10 million tonnes of packaging waste are produced every year in the UK. A substantial share of this ends up in landfill, though almost two-thirds of it could be recovered, meaning that there are avoidable environmental costs.[1]

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes can be implemented to ensure that producers' responsibility for their products is extended to the post-use phase. This includes financial responsibility and can apply to, for example, the environmental or waste management costs of the products they place on the market.

The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 (as amended) have been in place since 1997 and operate UK-wide.[2] Under these regulations, businesses which make or use packaging are obligated to contribute towards the cost of recycling and recovery of the packaging they have placed on the market. The objectives of this system are to:

  • Reduce the amount of packaging produced.
  • Reduce the amount of packaging waste going to landfill.
  • Increase the amount of packaging waste that is recycled and recovered.

Packaging producers do not bear full financial responsibility for the end-of-life management of their packaging in the current EPR system and are not responsible for the environmental externalities created by it. The objectives of reforming the UK packaging EPR system are to:

  • Increase packaging recycled.
  • Increase the recyclability of packaging.
  • Reduce unnecessary packaging.
  • Improve the environment, including a reduction in litter.
  • Increase domestic recycling and reprocessing capacity.
  • Enhance data reporting.

An amendment to the EU Waste Framework Directive sets out a 70% packaging recycling target.[3] The Scottish Government is aiming to meet or exceed this target within the UK-wide packaging EPR scheme.

In practice, this reform will mainly affect producers, though there may be indirect implications for individuals. Producers will be required to pay fees for the management of packaging they place on the market, with these fees likely varying to reflect criteria such as recyclability. This is expected to incentivise a switch to recyclable packaging, as well as a reduction in packaging overall. Producers will also be required to amend their labelling to better reflect whether a product is recyclable or not, assisting individuals in correctly disposing of packaging after use.

The fees raised from producers will be used to cover the following services and activities:

  • To fund efficient and effective local authority household packaging waste collections and commercial recyclable packaging collections. There may be changes to service delivery as a result.
  • To fund communications, locally and nationally, to ensure individuals understand their waste collection services.
  • To contribute towards the cost of litter bins and cleansing services for packaging waste.

Policy context

As part of the circular economy, this policy change would contribute directly to the Environment and Economy outcomes under the National Performance Framework.[4] Directly applicable National Indicators include:[5]

  • Carbon footprint
  • Natural capital
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Waste generated
  • Clean seas
  • Scotland's reputation
  • Perception of local area
  • Condition of protected nature sites

In 2015, the Scottish Government signed up to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.[6] 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. A change to the existing UK packaging EPR system could have a positive impact on a number of these goals, most explicitly Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

In May 2018, the European Commission's Circular Economy Package was approved.[7] The legislation aims to move supply chains towards a circular economy, maintaining the value of products, materials and resources in the economy for as long as possible. This includes more ambitious recycling targets and full cost recovery of recycling costs from producers.

The public consultation will seek views with regard to the principle measures that the reform to the existing UK packaging EPR system aims to introduce through secondary legislation.

Who will it affect?

The introduction of a reformed packaging EPR system will be applied across Scotland and does not specifically target particular sections of society. The policy is not anticipated to have a significant disproportionate impact on people with one or more of the protected characteristics.

What might prevent the desired outcomes being achieved?

The design of an effective scheme for Scotland, which aims to increase the quantity and quality of recycling and to reduce waste and litter, will be informed by evidence gathered, including during the statutory consultation period. No significant barriers have been identified at this stage.

About the Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA)

In developing this policy change, the Scottish Government is mindful of the three elements of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED):

  • To eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
  • To advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  • To foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

A policy measure may positively impact on one or more of the protected characteristics, while having a disproportionately negative impact on others. Where any negative impacts are identified, we seek to mitigate or eliminate these. We are also mindful that the PSED is not just about addressing negative impacts, as we also have a positive duty to promote equality.

Equality legislation covers the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, gender including pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, and sexual orientation.

Stage 1: Framing

Results of framing exercise

Preliminary framing workshops conducted by Zero Waste Scotland and involving Scottish Government experts identified a limited number of potential impacts for equalities groups. Therefore, a proportional strategy was designed, focused on desk-based research to source existing data and evidence to assess the potential impacts identified in the framing exercise.

Summary of activities:

  • Framing workshop: Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Government discussion.
  • Evidence-gathering: quantitative and qualitative data and evidence were sourced, including evidence from existing large Scotland- and UK-level surveys, primarily in relation to income, food and drink expenditure, and age.

Summary of findings

As this is a partial EQIA it is not intended to be a definitive statement or a full assessment of impacts; it is preliminary and indicative. The impacts identified are largely a function either of service design changes by local authorities, or scenarios for how the market will respond to the introduction of the scheme. Analysis of such impacts would require assumptions and, in some cases, very granular data and it is therefore not considered proportionate to assess them in detail. Consultation responses will be assessed for any further relevant impacts. In the case of consideration of potential cost pass-through, this has been considered as part of the Fairer Scotland Assessment, although it has not been possible to consider it in detail or quantify the impact of particular households or groups.

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.[8]

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.

The potential issues identified are:

Disability

Individuals impacted by physical or mental disability could be disproportionately impacted by changes to recycling instructions provided on packaging. These individuals may find changes difficult to adjust to, so inclusive communication methods and styles, including non-digital means would need to be applied and adequate support provided.

There is also potential for disabled people to be disproportionately impacted if the packaging materials of certain items on which they rely become less available as a result of the reform, due to fee modulation. For example, many disabled people rely on pre-prepared foods to maintain independent living. If the packaging of items in a way that makes them more accessible for people with disabilities was to be considered unnecessary for the wider market, or the material was of a type difficult to recycle and could not be replaced, then these individuals could experience a greater impact. This would most likely be in the form of reduced choice. However, there is insufficient evidence of a significant impact at this stage to justify doing further detailed work on the scale of this issue. Any impacts related to the price of groceries will be identified through the Fairer Scotland Assessment.

Age

The issue highlighted above in regard to inclusive labelling and associated communication methods and styles will also apply for older people. Older people are less likely to regularly use the internet or digital media, so inclusive communications beyond digital means are important.

Interaction with Other Policies (Draft or Existing)

The European Union (EU)'s Circular Economy Package 2018

In May 2018, the EU's Circular Economy Package was approved. The legislation aims to move supply chains towards a circular economy, maintaining the value of products, materials and resources in the economy for as long as possible. This includes more ambitious recycling targets than have been seen before and full cost recovery applied to a range of packaging materials placed on the market by producers.

Scottish climate change policy

The reform of the UK's packaging EPR system will contribute to objectives set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009,[9] and the Climate change plan: Third report on proposals and policies (RPP 3) 2018-2032.[10] RPP 3 sets out plans to decarbonise the economy in the period to 2032, making progress towards the target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050. Resource use and waste generation are recognised as key sources of greenhouse gas generation and the Scottish Government reports on progress against both territorial and consumption emissions.

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.[11] The Scottish Government views DRS as a form of producer responsibility, so if a producer is discharging their obligations for in-scope materials in line with DRS regulations, they should not also be required to pay into any other EPR system for DRS deposit-bearing drinks containers. Scottish Government research indicates that the DRS will achieve at least the same environmental outcomes as the reformed packaging EPR system within a shorter number of years.[12]

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the Scottish Government signed up to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.[13] 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. A change to the existing UK packaging EPR system could have a positive impact on a number of these goals, most explicitly Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

Plastic Packaging Tax

In 2018, the UK Government announced a new tax on businesses that produce or import plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content.[14] This aims to incentivise businesses to use recycled materials in the production of plastic packaging, which will create greater demand for recycled inputs and in turn stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste. The UK Government believes that the Plastic Packaging tax will complement the reformed EPR regulations and that together they will provide businesses with the right incentives to design and use plastic packaging that is easier to recycle, driving the overall development of more sustainable packaging.[15]

Extent/Level of EQIA required

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.

Stage 2: Data and evidence gathering, involvement and consultation

This section includes the results of the evidence gathering (including the framing exercise), including qualitative and quantitative data and the source of that information, whether national statistics, surveys or consultations with relevant equality groups.

Characteristic Evidence gathered and strength/quality of evidence Source (full reference details in appendix) Data gaps identified and action taken
Age Recycling behaviours
In surveys of household attitudes and behaviours associated with recycling and waste, self-reported recycling tends to increase with age. The 18-24 and 25-34 age groups typically report the lowest levels of recycling, and the 45-54, 55-64 and 65+ age groups report the highest.
Analysis of Scottish 3Rs Tracker survey data 2013-2016, Zero Waste Scotland[16] Should be considered as part of the service design.
Littering
At least 250 million easily-visible litter items are cleared by local authorities in Scotland each year.

People aged between 16 to 24 are more likely (35%) to report neighbourhood littering as very common or common, compared to 27% for those aged 60 to 74. The evidence suggests that litter is a social problem that particularly affects young people's perceptions of their own neighbourhood. Measures that could reduce littering, such as the reform of packaging EPR, could reasonably be predicted to have a positive impact on people's sense of neighbourhood, and particularly for young people.
Scotland's Litter Problem, 2013[17]

Scottish Household Survey, 2017[18]
Disability Accessibility and convenience of recycling
24% of adults in Scotland have a long-term physical or mental health condition. A physical or mental disability may impact on an individual's capacity to understand and adapt to changes in the process associated with reform of the system.
Scottish Household Survey, 2019Error! Bookmark not defined. Should be considered as part of the service design.
  Inclusive labelling format and communications
Any changes to labelling and communications associated with reform of the existing UK packaging producer responsibility system should be accessible to those impacted by learning disabilities and the visually impaired. Disabled people are also less likely to be internet users: 29% of adults who have some form of limiting long-term physical or mental health condition or illness do not use the internet, a significantly higher share than for those who have some form of non-limiting condition or illness (10%) and those who have none (6%). This suggests a requirement for suitable forms of non-digital communication.
Scottish Household Survey, 2019Error! Bookmark not defined.
Poverty
In 2015-18, the poverty rate after housing costs for people in families with a disabled person was 24% (440,000 people each year). This compares with 17% (600,000 people) in a family without a disabled person. Disability and socio-economic disadvantage are clearly linked. Any potential cost pass through associated with the reform could therefore impact on these individuals.
Poverty and income inequality in Scotland: 2015-2018, Annual Update[19] Whilst the potential for cost pass-through has been identified, it is not possible to assess the impact currently. This is explained in more depth in the Fairer Scotland Assessment.
Sex We are not aware of any relevant existing evidence at this time on sex in relation to the policy.   Preliminary review has not identified any impacts, though these cannot be discounted.
Pregnancy And Maternity We are not aware of any relevant existing evidence at this time on pregnancy and maternity in relation to the policy.   Preliminary review has not identified any impacts, though these cannot be discounted.
Gender Reassignment We are not aware of any relevant existing evidence at this time on gender reassignment in relation to the policy.   Preliminary review has not identified any impacts, though these cannot be discounted.
Sexual Orientation We are not aware of any relevant existing evidence at this time on sexual orientation in relation to the policy.   Preliminary review has not identified any impacts, though these cannot be discounted.
Race We are not aware of any relevant existing evidence at this time on race in relation to the policy.   Preliminary review has not identified evidence or data indicative of any impacts, though some potential issues are flagged.
Religion Or Belief We are not aware of any relevant existing evidence at this time on religion or belief in relation to the policy.   Preliminary review has not identified any impacts, though these cannot be discounted.
Marriage And Civil Partnership The Scottish Government does not require assessment against this protected characteristic unless the policy or practice relates to work, for example HR policies and

practices. This policy does not relate to work therefore we have not considered it for this EQIA.
  N/A

Stage 3: Assessing the quality of the impacts and identifying opportunities to promote equality

At this stage of the partial equality impact assessment, the qualitative scoring of the potential impacts (negative, positive and neutral) have been considered for each of the protected characteristics and the other specified characteristics already listed in this interim EQIA. This qualitative scoring has been undertaken using the data and evidence available and gathered to date. This is a preliminary and indicative assessment of the potential impacts at this preliminary stage and may be revised after the consultation has taken place and considered during the system design.

Do you think that the policy impacts on people because of their age?

Age

Positive

Negative

None

Reasons for your decision

Eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation

x

The reform of the UK packaging EPR system should be designed in such a way that it will not create unlawful discrimination related to this protected characteristic.

Advancing equality of opportunity

x

The reform of the UK packaging EPR system should be designed so that communication is accessible, clear and inclusive, including non-digital routes.

Promoting good relations

x

No evidence identified.

Do you think that the policy impacts people with disabilities?

Disability Positive Negative None Reasons for your decision
Eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation x The reform of the UK packaging EPR system should be designed in such a way that it will not create unlawful discrimination related to this protected characteristic.
Advancing equality of opportunity x The reform of the UK packaging EPR system should be designed so that communication is accessible, clear and inclusive, including non-digital routes. There may be potential for negative impacts on independence for some disabled people if packaging of certain types (for example prepared vegetables or ready meals) became less available as a result of the reform.
Promoting good relations   x The reform of the UK packaging EPR system should be designed in such a way that it will be inclusive not create unlawful discrimination related to this protected characteristic.

Do you think that the policy impacts on men and women in different ways?

Sex/Gender Positive Negative None Reasons for your decision
Eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation     x The reform of the UK packaging EPR system should be designed in such a way that it will not create unlawful discrimination related to this protected characteristic.
Advancing equality of opportunity   x No evidence identified.
Promoting good relations     x No evidence identified.

Do you think that the policy impacts on women because of pregnancy and maternity?

Pregnancy And Maternity Positive Negative None Reasons for your decision
Eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation     x The reform of the UK packaging EPR system should be designed in such a way that it will not create unlawful discrimination related to this protected characteristic.
Advancing equality of opportunity     x No evidence identified.
Promoting good relations     x No evidence identified.

Do you think that the policy impacts on transgender people?

Gender Reassignment Positive Negative None Reasons for your decision
Eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation     x The reform of the UK packaging EPR system should be designed in such a way that it will not create unlawful discrimination related to this protected characteristic.
Advancing equality of opportunity     x No evidence identified.
Promoting good relations     x No evidence identified.

Do you think that the policy impacts on people because of their sexual orientation?

Sexual Orientation Positive Negative None Reasons for your decision
Eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation     x The reform of the UK packaging EPR system should be designed in such a way that it will not create unlawful discrimination related to this protected characteristic.
Advancing equality of opportunity     x No evidence identified.
Promoting good relations     x No evidence identified.

Do you think that the policy impacts on people on the grounds of their race?

Race Positive Negative None Reasons for your decision
Eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation     x The reform of the UK packaging EPR system should be designed in such a way that it will not create unlawful discrimination related to this protected characteristic.
Advancing equality of opportunity     x There are possible impacts associated with labelling and packaging types, but no evidence has been identified and we do not anticipate significant impact.
Promoting good relations     x No evidence identified.

Do you think that the policy impacts on people because of their religion or belief?

Religion Or Belief Positive Negative None Reasons for your decision
Eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation     x The reform of the UK packaging EPR system should be designed in such a way that it will not create unlawful discrimination related to this protected characteristic.
Advancing equality of opportunity     x No evidence identified.
Promoting good relations     x No evidence identified.

Stage 4: Decision making and monitoring (Identifying and establishing any required mitigation action)

Have positive or negative impacts been identified for any of the equality groups? This review has identified at this stage a range of possible indirect impacts of the packaging EPR reform. Through the qualitative scoring process, possible negative impacts have been identified for the following protected characteristics:
  • Age
  • Disability
This scoring has been undertaken using the data and evidence available and gathered to date and within the timescale allowed. However, this is a preliminary and indicative assessment of the potential impacts and will be subject to further review and revision after the consultation has taken place and as part of the scheme design.
Is the policy directly or indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010? There is no evidence within this partial EQIA that the policy is directly or indirectly discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010.
If the policy is indirectly discriminatory, how is it justified under the relevant legislation? N/A
If not justified, what mitigating action will be undertaken? N/A

Monitoring and Review

Any impacts flagged as part of the consultation, and associated engagement, would be monitored and investigated, and the considerations raised in this document should be raised during the service design phase.

Stage 5: Authorisation of EQIA

Declaration;

I am satisfied with the partial EQIA that has been undertaken for the reform of the UK packaging producer responsibility system and give my authorisation for the results of this interim assessment to be shared as appropriate.

Name: Don McGillivray

Position: Deputy Director, Environmental Quality and Circular Economy


Contact

Email: eqce.cezw@gov.scot