Good to know – the future for manu­fac­tu­r­ers of dis­posable pla­s­tic products

The Single-Use Pla­s­tics Direc­ti­ve was adopted in imple­men­ta­ti­on of the requi­re­ments of the Euro­pean Green Deal and in light of the Cir­cu­lar Eco­no­my Action Plan. As of 3 July 2021, the Direc­ti­ve had alre­a­dy been par­ti­al­ly trans­po­sed into natio­nal law in Ger­ma­ny with the help of the Single-Use Pla­s­tic Ban Ordi­nan­ce  and the Single-Use Pla­s­tic Labe­l­ing Ordi­nan­ce.

The Direc­ti­ve appli­es to single-use pla­s­tic items such as bevera­ge cups, cut­lery, cot­ton swabs and food pack­a­ging that are made of “pla­s­tic” in the terms of the Direc­ti­ve and are inten­ded for sin­gle use. The list of pro­ducts con­cer­ned is exhaus­ti­ve and covers the single-use pro­ducts most fre­quent­ly found on Euro­pe’s bea­ches. In Ger­ma­ny, the ban on the mar­ke­ting of cer­tain single-use items lis­ted in the Annex (Part B), inclu­ding cut­lery, tab­le­wa­re, drin­king straws and pla­tes, has been imple­men­ted by the Single-Use Pla­s­tic Ban Ordi­nan­ce. Pro­ducts pro­du­ced befo­re 3 July 2021 may con­ti­nue to be sold. In the event of a vio­la­ti­on, a fine of up to EUR 100,000 may be imposed.

In par­al­lel, the Single-Use Pla­s­tic Labe­l­ing Ordi­nan­ce was issued in imple­men­ta­ti­on of the labe­l­ing requi­re­ments con­tai­ned in the Pla­s­tics Direc­ti­ve. Accor­ding to this, pro­ducts lis­ted in the Annex (Part D) of the Direc­ti­ve, such as sani­ta­ry nap­kins, wet wipes, tob­ac­co pro­ducts and bevera­ge cups, must be ade­qua­te­ly labe­led by the manu­fac­tu­rer eit­her on the pro­duct its­elf or on its pack­a­ging becau­se the single-use pro­ducts men­tio­ned are not acces­si­ble to any plastic-free alter­na­ti­ve. The labe­l­ing should also include an indi­ca­ti­on that the artic­le con­ta­ins pla­s­tic and draw atten­ti­on to the resul­ting nega­ti­ve envi­ron­men­tal impact as well as the pro­per dis­po­sal of the pro­duct. The cle­ar­ly visi­ble and legi­ble labe­l­ing con­sis­ting of a pic­to­gram as well as the infor­ma­ti­ve text “Pro­duct con­sists of pla­s­tic” must be affi­xed to the pro­duct as of 3 July 2021. Whe­ther the pic­to­gram is colourful or black and white depends on whe­ther a pro­duct is made whol­ly or par­ti­al­ly of plastic.

Fur­ther­mo­re, the Direc­ti­ve pro­vi­des for exten­ded manu­fac­tu­rer respon­si­bi­li­ty for cer­tain pro­ducts. Manu­fac­tu­r­ers are now requi­red to pay for awa­re­ness acti­vi­ties to inform con­su­mers about respon­si­ble use of the­se pro­ducts, as well as dis­po­sal, trans­por­ta­ti­on and tre­at­ment of the was­te, for cer­tain pro­ducts such as femi­ni­ne hygie­ne pro­ducts, wet wipes and balloons.

With the draft of the Single-Use Pla­s­tics Fund Act of March this year (EWKFondsG‑E), the last part of the imple­men­ta­ti­on will pro­ba­b­ly be com­ple­ted at the start of 2023 with the end of the legis­la­ti­ve pro­cess. Focus is also being pla­ced on increased pro­du­cer respon­si­bi­li­ty. The cos­ts incur­red for dis­po­sal and clea­ning are to be shared by the manu­fac­tu­r­ers of the affec­ted pro­ducts. Affec­ted manu­fac­tu­r­ers must pay into the new­ly estab­lished single-use pla­s­tic fund and regis­ter with the Fede­ral Envi­ron­men­tal Agen­cy to cal­cu­la­te the single-use pla­s­tic levy, which depends on the amount of single-use pla­s­tic pro­ducts pro­vi­ded and sold. This is inten­ded to reli­e­ve the bur­den on public was­te manage­ment authorities.

Con­clu­si­on

Sin­ce 3 July 2021, manu­fac­tu­r­ers have incur­red con­sidera­ble addi­tio­nal admi­nis­tra­ti­ve and finan­cial expen­ses to imple­ment the­se new requi­re­ments for the envi­ron­men­tal­ly com­pa­ti­ble design of single-use pla­s­tic pro­ducts. It is expec­ted that the cata­log of pro­ducts cover­ed will be expan­ded at the latest when the direc­ti­ve is review­ed in 2027.

We will keep you updated.

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