EU’s new single-use plastics directive enters force

Thu 15/07/2021 by Richard Wilkinson

The EU’s revised regulatory rules on food packaging came into force on July 3rd, with the Single Use Plastics Directive (SUP) (Directive EU 2019/904). The ruling is part of the European Green Deal and the EU Circular Economy Action Plan.

The Single Use Plastic Directive 2019/904 combines different measures to reduce the impact of certain plastics products, including an EU-wide ban on single-use plastics whenever alternatives are available. Single-use plastics are solely or partially made of plastic and are typically intended to be used just once or for a short period of time before they are thrown away. The plastic products to be banned under the directive include cutlery, plates, straws, cotton bud sticks, beverage stirrers, sticks for balloons, food containers made of polystyrene and products made from oxo-degradable plastic. Disposable plastic products, such as sanitary items, wet wipes, tobacco products with filters and drinking cups, need to carry a label to inform consumers about appropriate waste management options. EU Member States have to transpose the directive into national law by July 3, 2021 and both the market restrictions and marking of products apply as of this date.

In addition to the ban, the SUP requires the EU Member States to quantitatively reduce the consumption of certain single-use plastics for which there is no alternative available by 2026 with the consumption of these products in 2022 as a baseline.

The directive also sets collection targets and design requirements for plastic bottles, which will apply as of July 3, 2024. The ‘polluter pays’ principle will apply from December 31, 2024 for most products, requiring that producers cover the costs of collection, transport and treatment, clean up litter and awareness raising measures, or ‘extended producer responsibility’ (EPR) schemes.


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