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Directive introduced to ban single-use plastics in the EU

16th June 2021

Emily Baker

To prevent and reduce the negative impact on the environment of some plastics, as well as to promote a transition to a circular economy, on 3 July 2021 we will see a directive introduced to ban single-use plastics in the EU.

Single-use plastics are made fully or partly of plastics, with the intention to only be used once or for a short period of time. The plastic products set to be banned as part of this directive are:

  • cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks);
  • plates;
  • straws;
  • cotton bud sticks;
  • beverage stirrers;
  • sticks to be attached to and to support balloons;
  • food and drink containers made of expanded polystyrene;
  • products made from oxo-degradable plastic.

There are also a range of products that are being reviewed for further action (but not bans) under EPR in the EU (where alternatives are available), this includes bags, sanitary products, and wet wipes.

Requirements of EU countries

European countries will have a responsibility, for products of which there are no alternatives and in line with the EU’s waste policy, to take measures to reduce the consumption of certain single-use plastics. In addition to this, they must monitor consumption and report progress to the European Commission. Further responsibilities extend to encouraging consumers to adapt responsible behaviours, reducing litter for such products and utilising reusable alternatives.

With the introduction of this ban on 3rd July, this includes market restrictions and marking of product rules, whilst the product design requirements for bottles apply from 3 July 2024.

There are separate collection and design requirements for plastic bottles, as the directive sets a collection target of 90% recycling for plastic bottles by 2029 with an interim target of 77% by 2025. These bottles should contain at least 25% recycled plastic in their manufacture by 2025 (for PET bottled) and 30% by 2030 (for all bottles.)

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) measures will also be incorporated within this directive, which is in line with the UK’s EPR proposals, but these will not apply until 31 December 2024.

A full summary of the directive can be viewed on the European Union Law’s website HERE

This directive delivers on the EU’s plastic strategy and is an important step as we move towards a circular economy. Comply Direct can support companies to quantify and mitigate plastic tax liability as well design for recyclability. Click here to read about our full sustainable packaging consultancy services.