European Council adopted single-use plastic ban

On Tuesday 21 May the Council of the European Union adopted a directive proposed by the European Commission to ban 10 single-use plastic products (SUP)  in order to solve the problem of marine litter.

Where alternatives are easily available, the directive bans items that are most often found on European beaches, including plastic cutlery, plates, straws and cotton-buds as well as abandoned fishing gear and oxo-degradable plastics.

For other products, the focus of the directive is on limiting their use through a national reduction in consumption; on design and labelling requirements; and waste management & clean-up obligations for producers.

Today’s decision by the Council will be followed by the publication of the texts in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The directive will enter into force 20 days after the publication. The Member States will then have two years to transpose the legislation into their national law.

Directives outline certain results that must be achieved. However, each EU member state has the freedom to decide how to transpose them into their own law.

“There is a growing sense of urgency in European society to do whatever it takes to stop plastic pollution in our oceans. The European Union is responding to this clear call of our citizens,” said first Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development.

The new rules, said Timmermans, will help promote more sustainable production and consumption.

“We can all be proud that Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world,” he added.

To achieve the targets of the directive, vice-president Jyrki Katainen, said more recycling of plastics was needed.

“More innovative and sustainable ways of production will bring new opportunities for European businesses, increasing their competitiveness, growth and job creation,” he added.

According to Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, Karmenu Vella the legislation will address 70% of marine litters items, “avoiding environmental damage that would otherwise cost €22 billion by 2030”.

The SUP directive, proposed by the European Commission just over a year ago, has differentiated dates for transposition concerning certain measures:

The bans and the marking obligations will have to be implemented two years after the entering into force.

In terms of product design, all beverage containers up to 3 litres will have mandatory tethered caps by five years after the entry into force of the directive.

The additional obligations for extended responsibility of producers will have to be implemented between January 2023 and 31 December 2024, depending on the product.