Ban on single-use plastics from 2021

If you don’t want to land your business in the soup, you best stop serving food and drinks from single-use plastic containers before 3 July 2021. On that date, the EU ban on disposable plastics comes into effect. You will have to use straws, cups, cutlery, and plates that are made out of alternative materials.

Single-use plastics are used to make millions of disposable cups, plates, straws, and many more such items. Many of these products are thrown out by users and end up in nature, creating the proverbial ‘plastic soup’. In December 2018, representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU countries jointly agreed upon a directive that bans single-use plastics for which there are affordable alternatives.

There is more

The directive doesn’t stop there. These are some of the other measures:
  • The ban also applies to other items, for instance beverage and food packaging made of polystyrene foam, stirrers and cotton tips, and thin plastic bags.
  • According to the European Commission, 70% of the plastic soup, the plastic in European waters and oceans, consists of cigarette filters, balloons and certain types of food and drink packaging. For that reason, manufacturers of these types of products are going to have to pay for the processing costs of the litter they produce.
  • By 2029, 9 out of 10 plastic bottles must be collected separately. Producers must work on ways to make this possible. For instance, by using a deposit system, or by using innovative collection systems.
  • From 1 July 2021, a deposit of 15 cents will be in place for plastic drink bottles containing less than 1 litre. For larger bottles (1 to 3 litres), the deposit remains 25 cents. There will be deposit stations at supermarkets, train stations, petrol stations and caterers. The producers of the bottles are responsible for the introduction of the deposit system. Hospitality and small businesses do not have to collect the bottles.
  • From 2030, 1 in every 3 bottles must be produced from recycled plastic.

Change the consumer mindset

The ban on plastic bags in shops, which has been with us since 2016, is now bearing fruit. Fewer plastic bags are found in natural areas. However, the EU believes that a ban alone is not enough. Ultimately, citizens will have to make the difference to our consumer society. The member states will launch campaigns to make consumers aware that they shouldn’t discard their plastic waste in nature. Ultimately, the ban will have a major impact on private individuals. However, the packaging industry and producers of plastic products in particular will have to look for other more sustainable and innovative alternatives (in Dutch). The European Commission estimates that the measures will save consumers 6.5 billion euros. This is based on reuse and making products more sustainable. The ban will also result in 3.4 million tons of CO2 reduction.

Big chains take the lead

A number of large chains have announced that they are taking the bull by the horns. They have banned plastic straws and cutlery from their stores, and try to package their products using as little plastic as possible.

When does the law take effect?

The European member states took the definitive decision to put the ban in place in May 2019. The law will take effect on 3 July 2021.