What is The EU Single Use Plastics Directive?
Whether you voted Leave or Remain, even the most home-loving Brit has to admit that the European Union has a track record of producing and delivering environmental policy excellence. The EU’s Single-Use Plastics initiative is no exception, revolutionising how plastic goods are produced, manufactured, used and recycled. By 2030, the EU’s plan for plastic stipulates that all plastic packaging will be reused or recyclable in a financially viable way.
Businesses and consumers will be required to convert to more ecologically friendly solutions, according to recommendations submitted during a 12-week public consultation. It is possible that a range of single-use plastics such as plates and cutlery, expanded and extruded polystyrene cups, as well as food and beverage containers, will be phased out as part of the current government effort to remove all avoidable plastic waste.
Future policy actions could include an outright ban on plastics we often find as commonplace environmental litter such as wet wipes, tobacco filters, sachets, and single-use cups, as well as obligatory packaging labelling to assist customers in properly disposing of these goods. In-line with the EU’s innovative policy, the British government is bringing in their own levy on plastics. From April this year, the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) will be implemented across the UK.
What is the EU Single Use Plastics Directive?
There are two main goals of the European Union’s Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUP). Firstly, the initiative aims to reduce and mitigate the environmental impact of particular plastic objects. A second and core objective of the SUP is to boost the adoption of circular economy principles. EU-wide unified regulatory frameworks aim to primarily address marine litter and plastic pollution in particular, with eco-initiatives top of the agenda in true EU-style.
Interestingly, the Directive is expected to significantly alter Europe’s foodservice packaging habits. Unlike the taxation route taken by the British government with the PPT, the new European legislation prohibits the use of expanded polystyrene, oxo-degradable plastics, and certain plastic items altogether. While the UK is not legally required to implement the European framework, the four nations of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are taking individual steps to move forward. Numerous businesses nationwide are already taking steps to reduce avoidable waste with the avoidance of microbeads from personal care products and restrictions on the sale of single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds. The UK and EU both demonstrate environmental leadership in the global fight against plastic waste.
When did It start?
The Single-Use Plastics Directive, which came into effect in 2019, is one of the elements of the EU’s Plastics Strategy. Measures on single-use plastic products include market limits, usage reductions and obligatory recycled content. Some of these measures are applicable to single-use plastic packaging, such as some types of food and beverage containers.
How a switch to eco-friendly packaging can help our contribution to this
With the UK imposing plastic packaging tax this year and the EU’s bid to phase out single-use plastics by 2030, it’s worth making the switch to eco-friendly packaging sooner rather than later. While a switch to eco-packaging brings numerous advantages for the environment and clear financial incentives to businesses already buckling under rising costs, the biggest benefit can be seen in terms of business and consumer mentality. The reality is that conventional plastic packaging is gradually being phased out and will be a thing of the past; the sooner businesses can demonstrate flexibility, open-mindedness and willingness to adapt to the ever-changing landscape around us, the better your business brand will fare in the future.
Despite the progress made thus far, plastics remain prevalent in our daily lives and improper disposal causes environmental damage for decades ahead. A single usage of a plastic item can persist in the environment for hundreds of years, posing a threat to species and habitats. When microplastics are broken down, they reach our soils, streams, and oceans, where they become part of the food chain. Directives by the EU provide a solid framework and guidance for businesses and consumers about what customers should be expecting and how companies should be delivering for the decade of change ahead.