EU Considers Ban, Fees on Single-Use Plastic Items

EU Considers Ban, Fees on Single-Use Plastic Items

A proposed ban on single-use products will impact how companies package food and drink products.

The European Commission recently proposed measures to limit the sale of products such as plastic straws, cutlery, plates and stir sticks.

Wherever possible, European Union (EU) countries will ban these items in an effort to reduce pollution, particularly at beaches and in oceans. According to the European Commission, plastic items make up 80 to 85 percent of total marine litter, and plastic residues are now being found throughout the marine food chain.

Some products have been targeted for a ban, while others, such as food and drink containers, have been identified for reduced use and increased recycling.

Extended producer responsibilities have been proposed for products such as balloons, packets, wrappers, beverage containers, tobacco product filters, wet wipes and lightweight plastic bags. Additionally, companies would be required to make financial contributions to applicable EU Member States to cover the cost of prevention and waste management, including litter clean up.

If approved, the regulations are expected to come into effect in 2025, though they could be amended by the European Commission before then.

It’s not the first time bans or surcharges for single-use plastic items have been seen internationally. Austin, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle have all banned plastic bags for environmental purposes, while other American cities have started to charge consumers 5 to 10 cents for each plastic bag used.

The proposed ban would cover single-use plastics made from polymers manufactured with modified natural polymers, or from bio-based, fossil or synthetic starting substances. It would exclude unmodified natural polymers, which already exist naturally in the environment.

Critics of the European proposal have pointed out the need to go beyond limiting the use of plastic products and food packaging. They have suggested that regulations should also require companies to identify toxic chemicals used in food packaging, such as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, which give food wrappers the “non-stick” properties.

In light of this pending legislation, companies need to be aware of substances in products that could be subject to future regulation. Assent’s Product Compliance Suite facilitates compliance with a range of regulations and initiatives simultaneously, and adapts to include new and changing regulations. To learn how Assent can help you navigate a shifting regulatory landscape, email