There are currently over 150 million tons of plastic in our oceans and seas. In December 2018, representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU countries jointly agreed upon a directive to combat the 'plastic soup'. The agreement consists of serveral measures. The first have come into effect on 3 July 2021. Some disposable plastic products have been banned as of that date. Other products will have to be labelled. Manufacturers of disposable plastics have to contribute to processing the waste.
If a product is banned, you may no longer put it on the market from the date that the ban comes into effect. In most cases, this was 3 July 2021. You are allowed to use up your stock items. The ban also applies to products made partly from plastic, or bioplastics.
On 3 July 2024, an additional measure takes effect: loose caps on bottles will no longer be allowed. Caps have to be affixed to the bottle.
Do you produce disposable plastic items, and has labelling become mandatory for them? It means you have to include a message on the packaging or label. For instance, a coffee cup will have to bear the message that it contains plastic, and in which garbage container it belongs after use. The message also has to provide information about the adverse effects of litter.
EPR, or UPV in Dutch, stands for Extended Producer Responsibility. It means that you, as the producer of disposable plastic products, have to contribute to the costs of gathering waste and cleaning up litter. The EPR will be gradually introduced from 1 January 2023. The details are still being worked out.
There is more
The European Commission is planning more measures. For example: from 2025 onwards, 25% of all soda and water bottles must be made from recycled materials. That percentage increases to 30% by 2030. The precise details and entry date of the extra measures is not known yet.
The measures to combat the plastic soup affect both the consumer and businesses. The packaging industry and plastic products producers will have to find sustainable and innovative alternatives. Consumers must become more aware of the consequences of littering and the plastic soup on the environment.
The European Commission aims to reduce the plastic soup, but it also expects a 3.4 million tonne reduction in CO2 emissions. Furthermore, making production processes more sustainable and reusing products will lead to savings of over 6.5 billion euros.
Deposit on bottles
The Dutch government is taking additional steps to combat litter. From 1 July 2021, a deposit of 15 cents is in place for plastic drink bottles containing less than 1 litre. 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.
Bottles of fruit juice to which water or sugar has been added are also subject to the deposit scheme. For bottles with, for example, pure fruit juice, the regulation does not apply.
From 1 April 2023, soda, water, and beer cans will also carry a 15 cent deposit. How and where these cans will be collected is as yet unknown. Hospitality and small businesses will not have to collect cans.