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Directive (EU) 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment

Synopsis

This directive introduces policies that aim to reduce the use of single-use plastic products across the EU. Products affected include items made of oxo-degradable plastics, cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates and food and beverage containers.

This Directive is required to be transposed to law in every EU Member State by 3 July 2021. This is after the date the UK is expected to have left the EU. Therefore, it is not clear whether this Directive will be implemented in the UK or not.

 
 
 

Summary

Directive (EU) 2019/904 introduces policies that aim to reduce the use of single-use plastic products across the EU.

Directive (EU) 2019/904 is required to be transposed to law in every EU Member State by 3 July 2021. This is after the date the UK is expected to have left the EU. Therefore, it is not clear whether this Directive will be implemented in the UK or not.

What will be updated?

Scope

Restrictions will apply to single-use plastic products listed in the Annex. Different requirements apply to items listed in each of the Parts A-G.

Restrictions also apply to products made from oxo-degradable plastic and fishing gear containing plastic.

Consumption Reduction

Member States are required to take measures to achieve quantified reductions in single-use plastic products by 2026 against a 2022 baseline. These measures must apply to beverage cups (including their covers and lids) and containers food intended for immediate consumption (typically consumed from the receptacle).

Restrictions on Placing on the Market

From 3 July 2021, products listed in Part B to the Annex may not be placed on the market. This includes:

  • Products made of oxo-degradable plastics;
  • Cotton bud sticks;
  • Cutlery, plates, beverage stirrers; 
  • Plates; and
  • Food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene.

Product Requirements

From 3 July 2024, plastic products on the Part C list in the Annex that have caps or lids made of plastic may only be placed on the market if these remain attached to the container during the products’ ‘intended use stage’.

  • From 2025 PET drinks bottles must contain at least 25% recycled plastic.
  • From 2030 all plastic beverage bottles must contain at least 30% recycled plastic.

The above targets on bottles will apply as an average for all bottles placed on the market in any Member State.

Bottles subject to these requirements include those with a capacity up to three litres.

Marking Requirements

From 3 July 2021 single use plastic products listed in Part D to the Annex must display a clear marking informing consumers of appropriate waste management, the presence of plastics in the product and associated negative impact of littering.

Products requiring marking include sanitary towels, tobacco products with filters and cups for beverages.

Extended Producer Responsibility

Extended producer responsibility schemes are required to be established by Member States by 31 December 2024 at the latest. In addition to the costs already covered by packaging waste compliance schemes, extended costs will cover:

  • Plastic recycling and pollution awareness raising schemes;
  • Costs of collection for products discarded in public collection systems; and
  • Costs of cleaning up litter from single-use plastic products.

Suppliers of products listed in Part E to the Annex will be required to participate in and contribute to the scheme. These products include beverage cups (including their covers and lids) and containers food intended for immediate consumption (typically consumed from the receptacle), lightweight plastic carrier bags, wet wipes, balloons and single-use wrappers for food to be consumed immediately.

The supply of fishing gear containing plastic will also be liable for extended producer responsibility costs.

Separate Collections

Member States must ensure that the following percentages of plastic beverage bottles (up to three litres, including their caps and lids) placed on the market in any year are separately collected for recycling:

  • From 2025: 77%
  • From 2029: 90%

Deposit-refund schemes and separate collection targets may be used to achieve the above targets.

Awareness Raising Measures

Member States must ensure consumers are informed and incentivised to reduce litter from plastic items listed in Part G to the Annex (e.g. beverage cups (including their covers and lids) and containers food intended for immediate consumption (typically consumed from the receptacle), sanitary towels and fishing gear containing plastics.

Awareness must be raised on available reusable alternatives and waste management options, the impact of littering (including on the marine environment) and impact inappropriate disposal to the sewer network.

Coordination of Measures

Member States are required to coordinate measures on plastic products with other regimes and policies in the other Member States.

By 3 July 2020 the European Commission is required to publish guidelines on what is to be considered a single-use plastic product.

 

 

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