The European Plastics Converters (EuPC) has called for a postponement of the single-use plastics (SUP) directive, given the current Covid-19 crisis in Europe. Talks were carried out all throughout April, but echoes were felt in May as well.
In an open letter sent to the European Commission, the EuPC said single-use plastics are not easily substitutable and offer unique advantages when it comes to ensuring hygiene, safety, as well as preservation from contamination to protect consumers.
Moreover, the EuPC wants the directive postponed for at least a year at a national level, as this ‘will give all EU Member States time to focus on more urgent measures in the fight against Covid-19 by also distributing SUP in emergency situations.’
Lobbyists weigh in on difficulty of SUP Directive implementation and focus on safeguarding hygiene advantages of single-use plastics
Lobbyists state that the SUP Directive has, since the beginning, been a ‘difficult piece of legislation’ to follow and implement both at a commercial and national level by the EU member states.
Another statement in their open letter reads: ‘The EU Commission did not take into account when drafting and pushing in an extremely short period this ‘political’ piece of legislation, the hygienic consequences of banning or reducing SUPs. It only reflected on littering aspects. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has shown us that not all materials are the same. Single-use plastics are not easily substitutable, in particular in keeping the same hygienic properties to safeguard.’
Nevertheless, the EuPC letter also adds that the industry will continue to work on the circular economy aspects (aimed at eliminating waste and at the continual use of resources) with all value chains and maintain the objectives to reach 10 million tons of recycled materials consumption between 2025-2030.
The EC says deadlines have to be respected and good hygiene practices should be applied to substitutes of SUPs
Deadlines have to be respected, says the European Commission in response to calls by industry to lift an EU-wide ban on some single-use plastic items because of health and hygiene concerns raised during the Covid-19 outbreak.
‘The Commission’s position continues to be that deadlines in EU law have to be respected,’ said Vivian Loonela, the EU Commission spokesperson for environmental matters. ‘Member states still have one year to transpose the SUP Directive in national law,’ Loonela replied when asked to comment about industry calls to postpone the implementation of the single-use plastic directive.
‘With respect to the arguments raised by EuPC, good hygiene practices should be applied to all products, including substitutes of banned SUPs,’ the commissioner commented for Euractiv.com.
Calls for postponement could be based on SUP Directive not applying to other non-food single-use plastics
Despite embracing the EC’s decision to remain resolute when facing postponement calls from lobbyists, even go-green campaigners agree to the fact that the EU Directive 904/2019 banning single-use plastics doesn’t notably apply to products used in the health sector, such as single-use gloves, gowns and masks. Indeed, the SUP Directive applies to single-use plastics most commonly found in the environment (including food packaging – packets, wrappers, cups and bottles, straws and cutlery).
However, even in the health sector efforts have been growing over the past few months for reusable alternatives for face masks, for instance, which environmentalists say was boosted by the stock scarcity many countries have been faced with since the start of the pandemic where the usual single-use plastic gloves, masks, gown where concerned.
How lobbyists will capitalize on this discrepancy and how talks will escalate remains to be seen.
Read more about the EU 904 Directive here: https://www.bfgpackaging.com/eu-directive-904-bans-single-use-plastics-as-of-2021-but-there-are-alternatives/
Read more about sustainable and eco-friendly food packaging variants: https://www.bfgpackaging.com/sustainable-and-eco-friendly-packaging-solutions-from-bfg/