Single-use Plastic Directive

31 JANUARY 2019

Plastic packaging has been a hot topic in the media over the last year and in the Resource and Waste Strategy, the Government committed to a number of measures to prevent non-recyclable packaging being placed onto the market and announced a 30% recycled content tax that will see a consultation issued in the next couple of weeks. There has also been growing industry support for the Plastics Pact that sets recycled content and recyclability targets although there are concerns about the unintended consequences of demonising plastic (see the article about paper vs plastic bags).

What a lot of people have not realised is that the EU has been pushing through the Single-use Plastic Directive at high speed which, regardless of Brexit, the UK has commited to following. The attached presentation provided by Defra to the Advisory Committee on Packaging meeting on Tuesday provides a very good summary of the progress and impact of this Directive. Much of it is mirrored by commitments already stated in the Resource and Waste Strategy and to be included in forthcoming consultations on Extended Producer Responsibility. But it goes further than current UK plans with detail such as requiring lids and caps to remain attached to containers during use and bans on polystyrene fast food containers.

In the case of a no-deal Brexit, there is likely to be a view taken on how much of this eventually to regulate, but if, by some miracle, agreement is reached, then we will be subject to the full monty and this will end up fundamentally changing the use of plastic in the future.