Single-Use Plastics Regulations: draft guidance
Draft guidance for the implementation of the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (the Regulations). A final version will be produced before the Regulations come into force on 1 June 2022.
F - What exemptions are included in the regulations?
39. There are exemptions relating to two single-use plastic products, single-use plastic straws and single-use plastic balloon sticks.
40. The ban on the supply of single-use plastic balloon sticks does not apply to the supply of single-use plastic balloon sticks for attaching to balloons which have industrial or other professional uses and applications that are only distributed to persons acting in the course of a business. This is in line with the requirements of the SUPD. Industrial or professional use of balloons includes for research and professional decoration.
41. Therefore, this exemption applies where balloon sticks are supplied business to business for a professional use, such as to an events company to decorate an event, provided the balloon sticks are not to be distributed to any consumers, such as the attendees at the event. Balloon sticks which are supplied by businesses to consumers or are distributed to consumers at a private event are not considered professional or industrial use and are therefore subject to the restrictions in the Regulations.
42. Straws are a vital accessibility aid for many people, who rely on single-use plastic straws to eat and drink independently. Other options such as paper or reusable straws are not always suitable or safe. There are targeted exemptions in the Regulations for the purpose of enabling independent living, social inclusion and equal participation or if the straws are required for medical purposes.
43. The following establishments are able to supply single-use plastic straws for those who need them:
- Catering establishments. Where a single-use plastic straw is requested, catering establishments will still be able to provide it to a customer alongside drinks or food. See below for further information.
- Pharmacies. Single-use plastic straws can be purchased by those that need them, or on behalf of someone that needs them. See below for further information.
- Care homes, prisons or other places of detention, schools, and premises for early learning and childcare, day care or childminding. Single-use plastic straws can be purchased by these establishments and supplied to individuals using these facilities who require them.
44. Furthermore, the following uses are also subject to an exemption and so single-use plastic straws can be supplied where they are:
- A medical device which is an approved medical device under the Medical Devices Regulations 2002
- Used for medical purposes. This means for the purposes of preventative medicine, medical diagnosis, medical research and the provision of medical care and treatment.
- Supplied for use in the course of a support service which provides personal care or personal support. "Personal care" and "personal support" have the meanings given in paragraph 20 of schedule 12 to the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, and "support service" has the meaning given in paragraph 1 of schedule 12 to the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010.
This exemption means single-use plastic straws can be supplied to and provided by any person providing care giving or similar services outside of a formal care home setting. In addition, a carer (whether or not a professional) may purchase single-use plastic straws from a pharmacy.
- Packaging such as straws used to package granular medicines. This does not include straws which are attached to packaging, such as single-use plastic straws attached to drinks cartons, which are subject to the restriction.
45. The following sections set out the requirements associated with these exemptions, but the Scottish Government has also produced further guidance to help businesses maintain access to single-use plastic straws for those who need them, and ensure that the exemption is implemented in a way that respects equalities interests and the dignity of those who need to access single-use plastic straws. The single-use plastic straws toolkit available on the Zero Waste Scotland website provides further guidance on this matter and the points below.
How should catering establishments supply single use plastic straws?
46. Catering establishments, such as restaurant, canteens, clubs and cafes, can provide single-use plastic straws together with food and drink that is ready for consumption without further preparation. This can include vehicles or fixed and mobile stalls. The catering establishment must:
- Not offer or provide the straws unless requested; and
- Keep straws in a place where customers cannot help themselves and where the straws are not visible to customers.
47. This exemption has been included as straws are a vital accessibility aid, and it is important that they remain accessible to those who need them. Businesses should continue to comply with the duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. It is important to note that customers do not need to provide proof of need when requesting straws.
48. On-site third-party catering establishments such as cafes and canteens located within a hospital that serve prepared food to customers should apply the same approach as the other catering establishments listed above.
49. As noted above, Zero Waste Scotland has published further guidance on these matters in the form of a single-use plastic straws.
How should pharmacies supply single-use plastic straws?
50. Retail pharmacy businesses can supply single-use plastic straws at a registered pharmacy with a physical premises, online or through another distance selling arrangement. The registered pharmacy must:
- keep the straws in a place which is not visible or accessible to customers, such as behind the counter;
- not offer or provide single-use plastic straws unless the customer has requested them – although see paragraph 53 below.
51. Single-use plastic straws must not be advertised to customers by the pharmacy. This restriction does not prevent straws being displayed for sale on the pharmacy's website.
52. Straws which are medical devices or for use for medical purposes (see paragraph 44 for further information) may be offered to customers who have not requested them. This exception is to enable pharmacy staff to recommend the use of straws to customers for medical purposes.
53. There is no requirement for customers to provide proof of need when requesting straws.
How should other premises supply single-use plastic straws?
54. Straws can be supplied in care homes, prisons, schools and premises for early learning and childcare, day care or childminding. The purpose of these exemptions is to enable straws to be provided in these establishments for the purpose of enabling independent living, social inclusion and equal participation.
Where can these listed businesses purchase straws from?
55. The Regulations restrict the supply of single-use plastic straws to end users only. This is to allow a supply chain of single-use plastic straws. This means, for example, a wholesaler can supply single-use plastic straws to any of the businesses or premises subject to the exemptions (listed above) for the purposes of maintaining access for those who need single-use plastic straws.
56. For all the other items, except for balloon sticks, the restriction applies to supplying those items to both a business and an end-consumer. For balloon sticks, as set out at paragraph 40 there are exemptions which enable the supply for industrial or other professional uses and applications that are only distributed to persons acting in the course of a business.
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