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Internal Market Act 2020: what it means

The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 (the Internal Market Act) was passed by the UK Parliament, and received Royal Assent on 17 December 2020. The Scottish Parliament withheld consent for the Act.

The Act established a market regime for the UK which introduces market access principles for goods in the UK, including the mutual recognition principle for goods. The mutual recognition principle for goods provides that goods which have been produced or imported into one part of the UK, and which can be sold or supplied there without contravening any relevant requirement, can be sold in any other part of the UK, free from any relevant requirements which would otherwise apply. The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (the Regulations) will require to be read in light of the application of the Internal Market Act.  

Therefore the prohibition of supply of the listed single-use plastic products in the Regulations will not apply to any products which are produced or first imported into another part of the UK, and which can be lawfully supplied in that part of the UK.  

The Environmental Protection (Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers) (England) Regulations 2020 prohibit the supply in the course of a business of single-use plastic straws (with exemptions) and plastic drink stirrers in England, which would need to be taken into account in determining which products may be supplied in England. 

An agreement has been reached with the UK Government, to bring into force an exclusion from the effects of the Internal Market Act for the Regulations. The UK Government will lay regulations to amend the Internal Market Act to include this exclusion. The exclusion will come into force following completion of the relevant UK Parliamentary procedures.

Once the exclusion from the Internal Market Act is in force, the prohibition of the supply of the listed single-use plastic products in the Regulations will apply to all products, regardless of where they originate from and whether they can be supplied in another part of the UK. The Scottish Government encourages businesses to prohibit the supply of the listed single-use plastic products from 1 June 2022 regardless of the impact of the Internal Market Act.

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