European Council adopts strict rules on single-use plastic products
The Council of the European Union has adopted the Single-Use Plastics Directive, which includes a ban on selected single-use plastic products that pollute our oceans.
The European Union is creating a new legal basis for the sustainable use of plastics. To this end, the Council of the European Union today adopted the Single-Use Plastics Directive. The approval of member states was the last step in the European legislative process. The Directive includes a ban on selected single-use plastic products that end up as marine litter. With this Directive, the European Union wants to sharply reduce the volume of marine litter entering the world’s oceans. In addition, the Directive lays down the minimum amount of recycled plastic to be used in plastic bottles and makes it possible to distribute a greater share of waste removal costs to certain branches of industry.
Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze commented: The new EU provisions are helping us shape a new trend towards less short-run packaging, less waste and more recycling. The EU is facing up to its responsibility to combat the global pollution of our oceans. As plastic waste accounts for the largest share of marine litter, it is only right that we ban disposable plates and cutlery and other single-use plastic products as quickly as possible. In Germany, these products are to set vanish from our shelves even before 2021. I will continue talks with the retail sector to this end. The Directive also makes it easier to ensure manufacturers share in the disposal costs for their products, should these end up as litter in parks, on footpaths or beaches. This will also be useful for products like disposable coffee cups and cigarettes."
Main points covered by the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive:
- Ban: This applies to plastic plates and cutlery, plastic stirrers, sticks for balloons, plastic straws, cups made of expanded polystyrene and cotton buds with plastic components. From 2021, these products can no longer be sold in the EU. According to EU figures, these products make up some 70 percent of the plastic waste floating in our oceans. Furthermore, easily obtainable and affordable alternatives for these products already exist, made for instance, from bamboo, paper or wood.
- Product design requirements for plastic products: Bottle caps and lids on single-use plastic bottles must be tethered to the bottles to avoid them ending up in the environment. These requirements will come into effect by 2025 at the latest.
- Labelling requirements: This affects single-use products or products which can have negative environmental impacts if disposed of improperly or carelessly. Such products include balloons, cigarette filters, plastic cups and personal hygiene products with plastic components.
- Extended producer responsibility: This applies to lightweight plastic carrier bags, plastic cups for beverages, cigarette filters and fishing gear and will cover for example, the obligation of manufacturers to pay a share of clean-up costs for these products if they end up in the environment. The Packaging Act will be extended accordingly.
- Measures to reduce consumption and waste: These affect, among other things, cups and fast food packaging with plastic components.
Furthermore, the Directive stipulates that single-use plastic bottles must be made up of at least 30 percent recycled plastic by 2023.
The Directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. Following this, EU member states will have two years to transpose the Directive into national law.