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Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures (EPECOM)

In May 2018, the Scottish Government launched the 'Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures' (EPECOM).

EPECOM provides expert advice to Scottish Ministers on charges or other measures which may be adopted in Scotland with the goal of encouraging the long-term and sustainable changes in consumer and producer behaviour required to move towards a circular economy. 

The expert panel has an initial working life of 2 years, ending May 2020. 

The role of Zero Waste Scotland

Zero Waste Scotland lead on two main actions within the group:

  • Fund and support a pilot reusable cup scheme to address a key a knowledge gap for EPECOM and Scottish Government on measures to reduce cup consumption;
  • Maintain role as joint secretariat for EPECOM with the Scottish Government.

Reusable Cup Trial

EPECOM acknowledged that there was sufficient evidence that pricing cups separately to a beverage creates significant behaviour change.  EPECOM also acknowledged that a reusable cup scheme, similar to that of the Freiburg Cup or ReCup in Germany, is seen as a leading solution to reducing single use drink cup consumption.

It was recommended that the Scottish Government support and facilitate the running of reusable cup trials with the aim of scaling across the country. However, a combined charge and reusable cup scheme has yet to be implemented anywhere in the world and therefore a remaining knowledge gap in terms of understanding the potential impacts of combining these two measures would have on consumption rates.

The aim of the reusable cup scheme trial was therefore twofold:

  1. To conduct a world first trial to assess the dual impact of a single use drinks cup charge and reusable cup scheme in terms of single use drinks cup consumption;
  2. To use the trial as a sandbox to trial and iterate on such a scheme with the intention that, if successful, such schemes could be scaled across Scotland.

Based on these aims, the first report from EPECOM sets out recommendations to tackle the dependence on, and environmental impact of, single-use disposable beverage cups in Scotland.

Joint Secretariat

Zero Waste Scotland play a dual role of secretariat as well as undertaking basic research and drafting necessary papers to inform the panel.  This role will continue up until at least May 2020, whereby the Scottish Government will decide if the expert panel should continue or be dissolved.

Although it has not yet been formally requested by EPECOM, it is expected that in future, Zero Waste Scotland will be requested by EPECOM to undertake a piece of work clarifying the activities necessary for the SG to undertake to align with the EU SUP Directive.

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