On June 23rd, 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union, and on January 31st earlier this year the UK officially left the EU albeit currently being in an 11-month transition period.
Brexit has many, many uncertainties and questions, and one of them is whether the UK will adopt voluntarily the EU rules on waste and single-use plastics or if they will go their own way.
As with everything Brexit related, nothing is clear and all is uncertain, however the UK government and DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) are trying to clarify Britain’s plans for the near future.

On July 30th, the UK made the following statement regarding the Circular Economy: (LINK)

The UK is committed to moving towards a more circular economy which will see us keeping resources in use as long as possible, extracting maximum value from them, minimizing waste and promoting resource efficiency. The Circular Economy Package (CEP) introduces a revised legislative framework, identifying steps for the reduction of waste and establishing an ambitious and credible long-term path for waste management and recycling.


The UK government has stated that leaving the EU has not changed our world leading ambitions on the environment, and we have no intention of weakening our current environmental protections after the end of the Transition Period. We have a long history of environmental protection supported by a strong legal framework which pre-dates membership of the EU, and we will safeguard and improve on this record.

As per foodpackagingforum.com (LINK), the result is that the UK ‘adopts most of the text previously agreed while EU member; outlines small technical changes from Waste Framework Directive, confirms intention to continue transition towards a circular economy’.

Details on Single Use Plastics Directive in the UK

The Single Use Plastics Directive was not mentioned in the above statement, so BFG Packaging reached out to DEFRA for clarification. In their messages they made clear that even though the UK is not required to follow the EU directive to the letter as the 27 EU member states are required to do, they intend to match or exceed the requirements:

“Our proposals for tackling plastic waste in England are set out in our Resources and Waste Strategy. As you note, some policies that align with articles in the EU Directive have been taken forwards in England and by the devolved nations of the UK. It remains government policy to match or where possible exceed the ambition of the EU’s Single Use Plastics Directive”

Impact and conclusions

It seems that the UK will implement the EU’s SUP directive more or less in line with the rest of Europe. However, due to Brexit they can now implement this on their own time schedule and are thus not bound by the deadline set by the EU of July 3rd, 2021. That being said, some items on the ‘to-be-banned’ list have been banned in the UK since April this year, and the reaction from DEFRA implies that the UK is more likely to impose more restrictions rather than less.

BFG Packaging will follow the developments as good as we can, and we will keep you informed through these newsletters. In the meantime, both our newly launched XPP (Polypropylene alternative to XPS/EPS) and our Fiber catering range are available to all our customers.