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UK - England consults on SUP measures, Northern Ireland has made the least progress - 22 November 2021
On 20-Nov-21, DEFRA opened a consultation on banning certain single-use plastics items in England which largely correspond to those prohibited under the EU’s Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD). In addition, DEFRA issued a call for evidence to explore regulatory mechanisms for other problematic plastics. Both are open for stakeholder views until 12-Feb-22. Northern Ireland – the only devolved administration with a legal duty to transpose parts of the SUPD – has made the least progress doing so.
England: Consultations on banning 'most commonly littered' SUP items from Apr-23
In the 'consultation on proposals to ban commonly littered single-use plastic items in England', DEFRA: -
The proposal does not include a ban of oxo-degradable plastics as a material as DEFRA notes the the Government's position is set out in response to the call for evidence for Standards for biodegradable, compostable and bio-based plastics.
- proposes to ban plates, cutlery and balloon sticks made of all plastics, including bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics [Note: The other items banned under the SUP - cotton buds, straws and beverage stirrers - were banned in England from 1-Oct-20];
- proposes to include bowls and trays in the definition of ‘plates’ [Note: the SUPD does not mention these terms but covers bowls and trays that meet its criteria of 'food containers' for food stuff that are a) intended for immediate consumption, c) typically consumed from the receptacle and c) ready to be consumed without further preparation];
- considers excluding plates, bowls and trays that are used as [service] packaging (filled at the point of sale) except those used in ‘eat-in’ settings [Note: the SUPD applies irrespective of 'sit-in' or take-away or delivery consumption];
- proposes that extruded polystyrene (XPS) food and beverage containers should be covered by the ban on expanded polystyrene (EPS) containers [Note: The SUPD only mentions EPS but the European Commission clarified that “extruded polystyrene should be considered a subcategory of expanded polystyrene..."]
Stakeholder comments are sought on the potential environmental impacts of substitutes, additional costs or business constraints resulting from a ban, the impact of price on non-plastic alternatives, and predictions on the impact of a ban on consumers.
England: Call for evidence as regards potential policy measures for wet wipes, tobacco filters, SUP sachets, other single-use cups and additional items
DEFRA's 'call for evidence on commonly littered and problematic plastic items' regards potential policy measures for wet wipes, tobacco filters, SUP sachets, and other single-use cups, and also seeks views on any additional items which should be considered. Stakeholder comments are sought on various regulatory options: -
*SUP sachets e.g. those used for condiments in on-the-go food, or for small samples of cosmetic products, etc.
- Wet wipes: supply bans, ‘flushability’ standards, mandatory labelling, or an EPR scheme.
- Tobacco filters: supply bans or an EPR scheme.
- SUP sachets*: supply bans or product charge (e.g. as with plastic carrier bags).
- Single use cups: product charge [Note: mandatory take-back obligations for single-use cups are already being considered in the governments packaging EPR consultation].
SUP measures in the other devolved administrations
The UK government’s commitments to eliminate avoidable plastic waste stem from the Jan-18 25 Year Environment Plan and were cemented in the Dec-18 Resources and Waste Strategy. The recently passed Environment Act (Nov-21) lays the legal foundation for implementation of the strategy.
Due to the timing of Brexit, the UK is not legally required to transpose the SUP prohibitions of the EU Single Use Plastic Directive, but the Northern Ireland Protocol* requires some of its provisions to be transposed there.
Environmental Regulations are a devolved issue in the UK, and therefore, SUP prohibitions across the UK are currently inconsistent. However, despite being the only devolved administration with a legal requirement to transpose the prohibitions of the SUPD, Northern Ireland have made the least progress and seem likely to miss their transposition deadline of 1-Jan-22.
Existing legislation / consultations banning SUPs across the UK:
In Northern Ireland:
Sweden - SUPD transposition introduces Litter Fee and refreshed Packaging Ordinance - 17 November 2021
10 ordinances, partly new and partly amending existing Ordinance, complete the transposition of the SUPD and introduce 'product fees' on certain single-use products to finance municipal litter clean-up, objectives for recycled content and litter reduction as well as a new registration obligation for packaging producers and other changes to the packaging EPR regime.
The legislative bundle of 10 ordinances, published on 8-Nov-21, does not contain the ambitious requirements (i.e. as regards recyclability) proposed in Jun-21.
Note: Irrespective the new ordinances discussed here, the Swedish Government released a 240+ page memorandum on 5-Nov-21 for consultations ending Feb-22. The memorandum includes 8 draft legal texts and proposes to shift the operational responsibility for the collection of packaging waste from households from producers to municipalities to improve collection.
Ordinance 2021:996: Key SUPD provisions transposed with some peculiarities notably as regards oxo-degradable plastics
A new Ordinance on Disposable Products (2021:996 and its amendment 2021:997) transposes several provisions of the SUPD notably the prohibition and consumption reduction measures with some peculiarities:
In deviation from the SUPD's Art. 5, the Swedish prohibitions: -
The Ordinance transposes the consumption reduction measures on disposable cups and food containers (SUPD Art. 4) by requiring anyone providing over 150 units a day from 2024 (75 from 2026) to offer food and drinks also in reusable containers. In addition, the use of disposable cups/lunch boxes should be reduced 50% in 2026 when compared to 2022.
- enter into force from Jan-22 (not Jul-21),
- apply to disposable cups containing over 15% plastic from Jan-24 but
- do not apply to oxo-degradable plastics. Note: A Jun-20 amendment to the Packaging Ordinance arguably restricted oxo-degradable plastic packaging by requiring it not to be considered biodegradable, obligating producers to ensure that packaging can be reused or recycled from Aug-20 (Art. 37.2), and to deem packaging recyclable when it is material recycled, has a minimum calorific value (see also EN 14431) when energy recovered or bio-degrades in composting (Art. 39).
Ordinance 2021:1002: Product fee introduced to finance litter clean up with about SEK 60 (EUR 6) per capita
A new Ordinance on Litter Fees 2021:1002 introduces a ‘product fee’ on certain disposable items* to finance municipalities’ litter clean-up costs with an estimated SEK 60 (EUR 6) per capita: The fee will be phased in starting 2003 and is payable by producers to the Swedish EPA (SNV). It should be noted that the litter fee is payable in addition to the fees charged by the packaging PROs or the DRS (no exemptions).
The fee typically** consists of an annual fee per item group of SEK 500 (EUR 50) and payable from 2023 and a fee per unit placed on the market payable from 2024. The per unit fee is yet to be set. It will be calculated by the EPA by spreading the municipalities' litter costs for litter clean-up, sampling and awareness in the previous year over the share of the items in scope found in the litter waste stream.
The revenues from the litter fee - estimated to reach SEK 600m (EUR 60m or EUR 6 per capita) - will be distributed to municipalities in proportion to their population.
* Plastic cups and lids, flexible wrappers (plastic not mentioned), plastic food containers, plastic beverage containers < 600 ml, non-plastic beverage containers < 600 ml, filters and tobacco products with filters, thin plastic carrier bags, balloons, wet wipes ** depending on product type.
Ordinance 2021:1003: Packaging producer registration requirement from 2022, reporting requirements to the packaging producer definition, registration,
Ordinances 2021:1003 and 1004 amend the Packaging Ordinance 2018:1462 to transpose several provisions of the SUPD and introduce important changes to the packaging EPR regime with regards to the producer definition, registration and reporting obligations as well as recycled content requirements for plastic packaging.
Packaging producer definition and registration: A Jun-20 amendment to the Packaging Ordinance already required SNV to establish a digital reporting platform as stipulated in Art. 12 of the CEP amended EU Packaging Directive. Ordinance 2021:1003 now introduces the related obligations:
(For now) non-statutory recycled content and litter reduction objectives: Producers ‘shall effectively contribute’ to achieve the following objectives. SNV must monitor progress towards them and propose appropriate [mandatory] measures if it finds them at risk of not being met (§25e):
- New registration obligation: From Jan-22, packaging producers/fillers are newly required to individually ‘notify’ (i.e. register with) the SNV (§72).
- Foreign distance sellers will be considered packaging producer/filler from Jan-23 as “a professional who sells a packaged product or package, from a country other than Sweden, to Swedish end-users” (§8). Foreign entities may appoint ARs to assume their obligations (§36b). If they join a PRO directly, the appointment of an AR is not obligatory.
- New packaging reporting categories: The packaging reporting requirements change from Jan-22 and again from Jan-23, when POM volumes need to be separately reported in the overlapping categories * and reporting for SUP items becomes mandatory in line with the Ordinance on Litter Fees (2021:1002). *1. ‘Consumer’ (sales) packaging, 2. reusable packaging, 3. reusable consumer packaging 4. beverage bottles which are SUP products, and 5. packaging subject to a DRS.
SUPD related provisions: The Ordinances transposes further SUPD provision, notably the recycled content target for PET bottles (SUPD Art. 6.6), the requirements for plastic caps to be attached (SUPD Art. 6. 1-4) and the marking according to (EU) 2020/2151 (SUPD Art. 7) with respect to single-use beverage cups from Jan-22.
- Packaging containing over 50% plastic should on average contain 30% recycled plastic by 2030 (§25c).
- Outdoor litter from single-use plastic packaging is reduced by 50% by 2030 when compared with 2023 (§25a) Note: The provision also supports SUPD’s Art. 4 on consumption reduction.
Other ordinances in the bundle
An Ordinance amending the DRS Ordinance (2021:1005 + 2021:1006) notably requires DRS operators to provide collection containers in populated public spaces for DRS packaging from Jan-23.
Four new Ordinances (2021:998 to 2021:1001) transpose the SUPD’s EPR provisions on wet wipes, balloons, fishing gear and tobacco products.
Bulgaria - SUPD transposed with some deviations - 11 November 2021
An Ordinance enacted by Decree 354/2021 published on 2-Nov-21 transposing the EU single-use plastics Directive (SUPD) introduces some additional requirements, notably a visible fee for on-the-go beverage cups and food containers, while utilizing the existing product fee financing mechanism.
While largely aligned with the SUPD, several provisions of the Ordinance deviate or go beyond the SUPDs direct requirements:
Affected entities must register with the EEA from 1-Sep-22.
- Waste management and litter clean-up is to be financed
- through EPR - individual or collective compliance – for beverage containers under 3L from 2022 and for packets/wrappers made of flexible material from 2025 (Art. 12 (3)).
- through product fees for food containers for immediate consumption, beverage cups, wet wipes, balloons, tobacco products, plastic fishing gear and plastic carrier bags with a thickness below 50 microns from 2025 (Art. 12 (5) and (6))
- For SUP beverage cups and food containers for immediate consumption, fees must be charged and shown separately on invoices (visible fee) by food retail businesses from 2023 (Art. 5). Fees are set as follows:
- The recycling targets on SUP beverage containers of the SUPD (2025, 77%; 2029, 90) are supported by interim targets from 2022 to 2028. An upcoming amendment to the Packaging Ordinance will facilitate the achievement of the targets by reportedly i.a. imposing on the PROs a separate collection requirement for PET bottles in public areas.
* bags for hygiene purposes or provided as primary packaging for loose food - under Directive 2015/720 classified as “very lightweight plastic carrier bags” with a thickness below 15 microns – do not appear to be affected by the ban.
- The recycled content requirements will apply to PET beverage containers only [Note: The SUPD applies a 25% recycled content target on PET bottles from 2025, and 30% for all plastic bottles from 2030].
- Thin plastic (carrier) bags with a thickness below 25 microns* are added (in Annex 1 part B) to the SUPs banned from being placed on the market. The bans will enter into force from 1-Jan 22. Currently these plastic bags are subject to a Product fee of BGN 0.55 (EUR 0.28). Decree 354/2021 amends the Product Fee Ordinance and abolishes the product fee on these bags from 2022.
- Thin plastic carrier bags with a thickness below 50 microns are added (in Annex 1 part E) to the list of products subject to the product fee (under Art. 9).
- Producers of plastic fishing equipment are additionally:-
- required to establish collection infrastructure at ports [Note: Ports are to provide areas for separate collection];
- subjected to a 5% collection target in 2024, increasing annually by 5% and reaching 40% in 2031.
- Laser scans show devastating impact of wet wipes on the Thames; River charity Thames21 has today released data showing a mound created by wet wipes, which has grown to the size of two tennis courts and over a metre tall in the past six years. High-resolution sonar and laser scans of the riverbed of the Thames in west London have been collected along the River Thames in Hammersmith as part of work to build London’s new super sewer, which will tackle 95% of sewage overflows that currently pollute the river.
- FPA warning over plastic bans as Defra consultation begins; The association welcomed Defra’s move that the items subject to payment under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) would most likely not be hit by a ban, but warned that plastic alternatives would cost more and there will be a risk this will be passed onto consumers.
- EU Waste Shipment Regulation ‘should not incentivise landfill capacity’ – ESWET; To safeguard sustainable treatment of waste in Europe, the proposed new waste shipment Regulation needs clear rules for intra-EU shipments, according to the European Suppliers of Waste-to-Energy Technology (ESWET).
ESWET says it welcomes the Commission’s proposal to revise the waste shipment Regulation to reduce waste exports and treat municipal waste in Europe under EU standards, but calls for coherent and ‘clearer rules for intra-EU shipments’.
- Amcor urges improved recycling through revamped EPR; Speaking exclusively to Packaging News, David Clarke, Amcor sustainability vice president, called on government and industry to ensure there are incentives provided to create packaging that is more recyclable and has used more recycled content. At a national and regional government level, he said brands and retailers are essential to catalyse consumer action,that legislation is needed to align countries on a standardised approach to recycling and that local government also has a vital role in the provision of roadside collection and other systems.
- Eunomia produces first-of-its-kind model to calculate the cost of litter; Sustainability consultancy Eunomia Research & Consulting has created a new model to calculate the cost of dealing with littered items to inform discussions of how the burden of those costs can be shifted from local authorities towards producers under new producer responsibility legislation. The model, produced for WRAP, is a first-of-its kind tool and provides a picture of both the total costs incurred for litter clean-up as well as estimates of costs associated with managing different types of items when they end up as litter.
- UK Packaging Awards 2021 | Winners announced; The UK Packaging Awards returned for 2021 with the winners revealed on Friday 12 November at The Brewery in London.
- UK Packaging Awards 2021 | BCMPA lauds London event; The association said the awards recognise the ‘extraordinary support’ that co-pack and fulfilment firms provide to the wider retail and packaging sector.
- Apple announces Self Service Repair; Apple has announced the launch of Self Service Repair, which will allow customers who are comfortable with completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts and tools. Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022.
- The John Lewis Partnership launches The Circular Future Fund: The Million Pound Challenge; The pot will fund innovative projects, businesses and services that have found inventive ways to “design out” waste or renew and extend product life cycles. Today, the John Lewis Partnership launches The Circular Future Fund, an initiative that will award a total of one million pounds, over one year, to projects that demonstrate trailblazing, scalable innovations that can accelerate the transition towards a more circular economy.
- Princes Group to cut CO2 emissions through packaging projects; Princes has announced that packaging projects across its range of brands are set to reduce carbon emissions by 1,100 tonnes and remove 900 tonnes of plastic from product packaging across the group annually.
- SEPA uncovers largest single illegal export of household waste from Scotland; A UK and European recycling company was fined £20,000 at Airdrie Sheriff Court recently after the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) uncovered the largest single illegal export of household waste from Scotland. Saica Natur UK Limited pleaded guilty on 21 September 2021 at Airdrie Sheriff Court to transporting waste collected from households (code Y46) to China in contravention of Article 36(1) of the Waste Shipment Regulation (EC1013/2006) and Regulation 23 of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 (the Waste Shipment Regulations). Sentencing was deferred until 16 November.
- ‘Rapidly expand’ critical material recycling to avoid UK supply chain risks – Green Alliance; A new report by think tank Green Alliance says growing UK green industries will face critical raw material supply risks, ‘unless action is taken now’.
Looking at projected use of lithium, cobalt, silver and rare earth elements by the UK’s low carbon industries over coming decades, it found the UK will easily exceed its per capita share of critical raw material reserves by 2050.
- Morrisons to become the first supermarket to own its own recycling operations; Morrisons will become the first supermarket to own its own recycling operations through the acquisition of a significant stake in a new recycling site in Fife. The site will reprocess ‘hard-to-recycle’ soft plastics. Uniquely within the industry, Morrisons already owns 18 of its own food making sites. Morrisons has also committed that by 2025, it will recycle and reuse the equivalent amount of plastic it puts on to the market within its own recycling facilities, to develop greater recycling in the UK. It has already announced it will reduce its own brand plastic packaging by 50 per cent by the same year.
- ASOS and Centre for Sustainable Fashion drive innovation in circular design with new guidebook; ASOS, one of the leading online fashion destinations, and Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF), a research centre based at London College of Fashion, part of University of the Arts London, release the ASOS Circular Design Guidebook, a 112-page interactive resource to help designers, students and fashion brands design and create fashion products that support the circular economy.
- ‘Make recycling compulsory’, waste authority urges UK Government; With the equivalent of 67 double-decker buses of waste generated per hour in London alone, the UK’s second largest waste authority and London’s largest, North London Waste Authority (NLWA), has called on the UK government to ‘urgently’ implement measures to reduce ‘unsustainable consumption’. NLWA’s call follows the publication this week by the National Infrastructure Commission of its Second National Infrastructure Assessment Baseline Report , which among its many recommendations states that waste must be reduced and recycling increased if the UK is to reach net zero by 2050. NLWA welcomes the report and its recommendations.
- “We won’t recycle our way out of plastic pollution” – Dame Ellen MacArthur; The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s third annual report of its New Plastics Economy Global Commitment demonstrates ‘clear progress’ from brands and retailers on reducing virgin plastic use, but more effort is needed to reduce the need for single-use packaging in the first place, it says. Three years after launching the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme has published the Global Commitment 2021 Progress Report, showing how businesses accounting for 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally, have progressed towards their 2025 targets to create a circular economy for plastics.
- Frugalpac reports surge in demand for paper bottle; Frugalpac said gas bills increased significantly (almost double) for UK glass manufacturers, and an international shortage of glass bottles due to supply issues, both which helped increase the demand for Frugal Bottles, which saw orders rise to over 100m ‘in a few weeks’.
- New study pinpoints ‘likely path’ of COVID-related plastic waste in the ocean; Researchers use a new model to project where the ‘surge of mismanaged medical waste’ resulting from the pandemic will end up – including beaches, seabeds, and the Arctic Ocean. Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for single-use plastics such as face masks, gloves, and face shields. The resulting waste, some of which ends up in rivers and oceans, is ‘intensifying pressure on an already out-of-control global plastic problem’, according to a new study which is the first to project the magnitude and fate of this waste in the oceans.
- OPRL adds crisp packs to in-store recycling labelling; OPRL is adding crisp packets and metallised snack and chocolate wrappers to its specialist in-store recycling labelling, building on earlier announcements to include polypropylene (PP) films from 1 January 2022.
- “It’s time for us to end our reliance on virgin materials” – Veolia; Resource and waste management company, Veolia, has said in a COP26 statement that the carbon impact plastic has on the planet ‘cannot be ignored’.
Citing Imperial College London research, Gavin Graveson, Veolia Senior Executive Vice-President, Northern Europe Zone says that if all plastics were recycled, we could save annually up to 150 million tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent to stopping up to 40 coal fired power stations.
- Nivea launches new EcoRefill Hand Soap; Personal care favourite Nivea has announced a category first with a revolutionary new product that uses innovative technology to deliver an advancement in hand cleansing.
- Long-awaited Environment Act passes into UK law; Through the Environment Act, the UK Government will set out to improve the UK’s air quality, restore natural habitats, increase biodiversity, reduce waste and ‘make better use of our resources’, the UK government says.
It will set out to halt the decline in species by 2030, require new developments to improve or create habitats for nature, and tackle deforestation overseas.
- Nush relaunches dairy-free cream cheese in recyclable, snap-on lid, pack; UK-based Nush Foods has relaunched its dairy-free cream cheese – made from almond milk – in recyclable cups with snap-on lids, made by Greiner Packaging.
- TIPA launches home compostable transparent laminate for food packaging; The new laminate has the same functionality as TIPA’s T.LAM 607 but is TUV OK Home Compost certified, meaning it can be disposed of in-home composting bins where it will break down leaving no toxic pollutants behind.
- Malibu launches initiative to cut five million bottles of ocean-bound plastic; The Absolut Company has announced a year-long collaboration with the social enterprise Plastic Bank to address ocean-bound plastic in the Philippines.
- Barcardi sets out plastic reductions on seasonal gift packs; The formats will contain 50% less plastic compared to last year. According to Bacardi, the move removes 147 tons of single-use plastic and alternatives to me made by FSC certified board.
- DS Smith aims to educate pupils on circular economy; The lesson plan targets ages 11-14 and aims to introduce young people to the circular economy, incorporating activities and videos. It aims to explain how “we can all play a part in protecting the planet’s natural resources”.
- Iceland announces commitment to be the UK’s first plastic neutral supermarket; The move means recovering and recycling environmental and nature-bound waste plastic equal in weight to the supermarket’s residual plastic footprint.
- First 3D printing filaments made from post-consumer single use plastic waste; Single-use plastic waste has been successfully transformed into 3D printing filaments – which will eventually be used by businesses to make sustainable new products – as part of a multi-million pound international research project, led by Manchester Metropolitan University.
Researchers from the University have developed the new filaments using recycled, post-consumer, single-use plastics (SUP) wastes, including materials commonly found in plastic drinks bottles and coffee cup lids.
- IPS works with Tesco on reusable packaging project; The service, at 10 stores in the East of England, will allow customers to buy common household goods in reusable packaging that can be returned to the store to be used again with the aim of meeting demand for less plastic. IPS purchased the raw material on all the own label Tesco SKU’s, split them by allergen controls and co packed, labelled and palletised all of the SKU’s for the 10 store Tesco trial.