Single-use food containers: call for evidence - summary of responses

Summary of responses from our call for evidence on tackling consumption of single-use food containers and other commonly littered or problematic single-use items. The report brings together a range of evidence and views from stakeholders to inform policy development on single-use plastic

Executive Summary

1. A call for evidence on tackling consumption of single-use food containers and other commonly littered or problematic single-use items (bowls, trays and platters; incontinence and period products; sachets; tobacco filters; and fruit and vegetable packaging) was released in April 2022. It received 69 responses, including 26 individual and 43 organisation responses. Organisation responses included: charities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community groups, local authorities, businesses and industry bodies.

2. A wide range of evidence was presented by respondents about the environmental, economic and social issues associated with single-use plastic items and products. This included scientific and industry reports, surveys, government reports, community action and volunteering-based evidence, and personal observations.

3. Key themes that emerged from this call for evidence included: litter and the environmental damage littering of single-use plastics can cause; the large and complex market associated with single-use plastics and the range of industry and business interests at stake; that environmentally-friendly alternative products are available but there are a range of negative impacts and challenges associated with these; that barriers to change include consumer behaviours, business costs and the complexity of policy and regulations. Responses also pointed to a need to consider inequalities in society and how those who experience socio-economic disadvantage and those with protected characteristics may be impacted by policy development in this area.

4. The analysis suggested that there may be a lack of data and evidence available across a number of items and topic areas and further analysis may be needed. Some of the issues raised by respondents such as litter, harm to wildlife, smoking or access to incontinence and period products, clearly are emotive and sensitive topics and this points to a need for policy to consider a range of evidence types – from scientific reports to market and consumer research to individual interests, values and experiences.

5. The Scottish Government will review the evidence from this call and use this to shape future policy development on single-use plastics, in line with upcoming developments in the Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill, Circular Economy and Waste Route Map and Climate Change Plan.



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