France adopted a French Law on the Circular Economy, which bans the items included in the SUP Directive, and also plastic confetti, lids for cups, and packaging for fruits and vegetables (with some exceptions).
According to the same legislative bill, all food-ware used for daily home meal deliveries and on-site consumption in hotels, restaurants and cafes will have to be reusable by 2022 and 2023 respectively.
Italy has had a ban on plastics bags, except for biodegradable and compostable bags, since 2013 and on cotton buds made of plastic since 2019.
Last year, Italy announced plans to introduce a plastic tax in January 2021, which was included in Italy’s annual Budget Law.
From January 1, 2021, the so-called “plastic tax” was to be enforced in Italy – a tax on disposable plastics for packaging applications to the tune of €0.45/kg.
In November 2020, the Bundesrat approved an ordinance banning some single-use plastics from use, including EPS containers, from July 3rd, 2021.
Moreover, in early February 2021, the German Cabinet confirmed an update to the Packaging Act – which stipulates that restaurants must offer reusable containers for their take-away products from 2023.
Austria’s National Council passed a law on July 2nd, 2020, banning the sale of plastic bags as of 2021.
There is also a waste management law currently being revised in Austria, which includes articles aiming at transposing the SUP Directive. The focus of the discussions has been on the establishment of a Deposit Return System (DRS) for single-use plastic bottles.
In December 2020, Belgium announced how it will tackle the EU plastics levy, coming into affect starting with January 2021, on non-recycled plastic packaging waste.
Less details were given as regards the transposition of the EU SUP Directive, but the Federal Government is expected to be on track with the July 2021 deadline.
Luxembourg will implement the directive in July 2021, going even further than the text and banning all single-use plastics from festivals.
Starting in 2022, it will ban the sale of fruit and vegetables in single-use plastic containers and restaurants will be expected to use reusable cups, crockery and cutlery for refreshments consumed on-site. Starting 2023 no single-use bag can be handed out free of charge and restaurants offering take-out will have to have a strategy for reusable food containers to be implemented for the start of 2024.
Finland failed to introduce the requirements of the amended Waste and Packaging Directive into Finnish legislation by the deadline, which was 5 July 2020. The Government proposal to amend the Waste Act is expected to be submitted to Parliament this spring. The new requirements of the directives could be brought into Finnish legislation in the summer of 2021, i.e. one year late.
The legislative amendments required by the SUP (Single Use Plastics) Directive were also under preparation in 2020. The SUP directive extends producer responsibility to cover certain packaging in terms of preventing and cleaning up litter.
On January 29, 2020, the Swedish Parliament voted to approve a tax on plastic bags. Under the new rules most plastic bags will be taxed at SEK 3 (about US$0.31) apiece, while smaller and thinner plastic bags will be taxed at 30 öre (SEK 0.30, about US$0.03) apiece. Smaller plastic bags are defined as those that have a wall thickness of less than 15 micrometers and a volume of less than 7 liters.
The new rules entered into force on March 1, 2020, but actual enforcement of taxation was scheduled for April 1, 2020. The tax does not apply to plastic bags that are “meant for continuous use”.
No further news yet as to other single use plastics, such as food packaging, and how the Swedish government will be tackling this issue.
The Danish government has initiated the transposition process for the SUP Directive, and is following the transposition in a timely manner. Denmark, which has had a Deposit Return System (DRS) for plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans for water, soft drinks and beers for decades, expanded the scheme on the 1st of January 2020 to include juice and other beverage containers.
Draft legislation was proposed to transpose the SUP Directive and includes the objective to reach 90% separate collection of bottles already by 2022.
However, the draft legislation currently falls short of setting consumption reduction targets for single use plastic cups and containers, and of proposing measures to increase the use of reuse solutions.
The Netherlands has recently extended their DRS on single-use plastic bottles to cover also smaller bottles.
In April last year, the Portuguese government passed a bill outlawing disposable plastic packaging of fruit, vegetables, and bread.
Even before the EU committed to a 2021 ban on single-use plastics, Portugal had introduced legislation prohibiting state departments from using plastic bags, plates, or bottles.
Portugal has been recognised as being ahead of the pack, among European countries, in terms of its action on disposable plastics.
The draft of a new law on waste foresaw the transposition of the SUP Directive – and was communicated in June 2020.
On top of banning the sale of single-use plastics, the government wants to gradually reduce the availability of such products. Use of containers for takeaway food or soft drink glasses will have to be cut by half from 2022 levels by 2026. By 2030, use will be cut by 70%.
A few Spanish regions (Balearic Islands and Navarra) have already adopted comprehensive sets of measures on single-use plastics, including further bans.
Northern Ireland must bring parts of the Directive into its own laws by 1st January 2022, as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol. This aims to ease the flow of goods across the border with the Republic of Ireland.
Details of Ireland’s National Waste Policy 2020-2025 were released in late September 2020 by the Minister for Climate Action and Environment Eamon Ryan.
The plan includes aims to halve food waste by 2030, introduce a deposit and return scheme for plastic bottles and aluminium cans, place a levy on disposable cups and ban certain single-use plastics from July 2021.
An impact assessment commissioned by the Estonian government should be finalized (and made public) in the coming weeks, which will provide more insight on upcoming developments. The government is then expected to start drafting measures. A DRS for single-use plastic bottles has been in place in Estonia since 2005.
The government proposed a draft legislation that transposes the SUP Directive, with no higher ambition than the legal requirements of the Directive. The draft law has been stalled in the Parliament process for adoption. Lithuania set up a DRS for single use plastic bottles in 2016.
In May 2020, Latvia communicated a framework for the National Environment Policy Plan, a law from the Republic of Latvia ‘On Environmental Protection’. Although it tackles the issues of waste and sustainability, no further details were given as regards the SUP Directive.
Greece has announced some promising developments, such as the setting of reduction targets for single use plastic cups and bottles, and the application of measures in the public sector already from January 2021. As such, from February 2021, single use plastics have been abolished from use in state agencies.
According to the Environment and Energy Ministry, the public administration ban “is the first significant step toward ending the use of disposable plastics (i.e. like food containers) in Greece, expected to be fully implemented as of July 3, 2021.”
First announced on January 25th, 2021, the Czech government approved a bill designed to significantly reduce the use of plastic items (like single-use food containers).
The law, presented by Czech Environment Minister Richard Brabec and discussed by MPs from the lower house of Parliament, should come into force in July 2021 and put the Czech Republic in line with the 2019 Single-use Plastics Directive.
The new measure approved by the Czech government would mainly ban single-use plastic items, such as straws, plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups, and impose new duties on plastic manufacturers.
The cities of Dubrovnik, Trogir, Stari Grad on the island of Hvar and Sali on the island of Dugi Otok will be the first in Croatia to reduce plastic waste and use alternative solutions by participating in projects by Split’s Association for Nature, Environment and Sustainable Development “Sunce”.
The Croatian law on waste should be adopted by July 3rd this year, when Croatia should ban single-use plastic products, such as cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers and food containers.
The importation of single-use plastics to Malta has come to an end starting with 2021, as measures to prevent pollution come into effect.
This follows the completion of the public consultation and publication of legal notices on the 30th of December 2020, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning Aaron Farrugia announced.
The ban will apply to products such as plastic bags, cutlery, straws, plates, cotton buds, food containers and stirrers.
Only a few days after the draft law foreseeing SUP bans became public, the Hungarian government withdrew it.
Later, a second draft of a legislative proposal transposing the bans on certain single-use plastics was adopted by the Parliament – though some comment not quite as ambitious as the first. A DRS may be tested from July 2021 for single-use plastics and glass bottles and cans.
Representatives of the Ministry of Environment divulged in late March 2021 that Romania will be devising a set of legislative measures to meet the SUP Directive requirements as part of a National Plan for Recovery and Resilience with a special line of budget for environmental protection, which the single use plastics ban would fall under.
However, officials and NGO reps are arguing that a number of secondary legislation challenges have been identified, such as identifying and defining the scope of the product, harmonized marking on certain disposable plastics, calculation and verification of separate collection targets, the reporting format, calculation and verification of consumption reduction.
In January 2021, experts of the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water commented that starting from this summer the use of 8 types of single-use plastic products is to be prohibited in Bulgaria.
The ban will apply to products made wholly or partly of plastic and generally intended for single use or used for a short period of time before being discarded. These are plastic tableware – forks, knives, spoons, plates, straws, as well as earbuds, beverage stirrers, plastic sticks, to which balloons are attached, food storage vessels made of expanded polystyrene and cups and products made of oxo-degradable plastic.
Countries with legislative measures still uncertain
While some discussions have been initiated on the EU bans of certain single-use plastics and on DRS, the following governments have largely delayed the adoption of measures.