Single Use Plastics Directive

Members may be aware that the European Commission has recently approved a Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive, which will come into force on 3 July 2019 with a two-year transposition period. This piece of legislation is aimed at reducing the environmental, and particularly the marine, impact of certain widely used plastic based products. Paper products are not directly affected but if a pack is formed from a composite including plastic it may, under certain circumstances, be subject to the terms of the Directive.

It applies to certain single use products made “wholly or partly from plastic”. Thus, for example, wet wipes are included as are food containers for food for immediate consumption, but not those containing dried food products. On the go food containers are clearly in scope and it also encompasses composite beverage containers. It bans certain products such as plastic cotton buds, plastic straws, plastic cutlery, and requires member states to seek measurable reductions in the sale of other products such as single use beverage cups, food containers, packets and wrappers. The Directive is considered “lex specialis” which means its requirements take precedence over other waste or packaging legislation.

The UK Government has stated that it will continue to transpose European environmental legislation no matter the outcome of current Brexit discussions, so this legislation should come into UK law in 2021. In the meantime, the Government has taken a limited but more immediate response by banning plastic straws, plastic stemmed cotton buds and plastic drinks stirrers in England from April 2020.

This particular legislation is unlikely to affect many CPI Members directly, but it could provide new market opportunities and it does reflect a growing awareness within government that it may be necessary to further control the types and combinations of materials and products entering the packaging supply chain.

For further information please contact Simon Weston on 07887 641481 or