European Commission Taking Legal Action Against Member States Over The Single-Use Plastics Directive

by George Kiernan

Home - News - European Commission Taking Legal Action Against Member States Over The Single-Use Plastics Directive

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The European Commission announced it intends to take legal action against 11 EU Member States for failure to communicate their strategies for full implementation of the Single-Use Plastics Directive.

The purpose of this Directive is to minimise the impact of single-use plastics on both human health and the environment. However, the following states have failed to properly report the measures they are putting in place to transpose the Directive into law: Finland, Slovenia, Portugal, Poland, Latvia, Croatia, France, Ireland, Estonia, Denmark and Belgium.

The Commission gave them two months to communicate and apply these measures, otherwise the body will escalate the cases to the Court of Justice for the possible imposition of financial sanctions.

The Single-Use Plastics Directive

When the Single-Use Plastics Directive first came into effect on 3rd July 20219, Member States had two years to complete the transposition of the legislation into national law and fulfil its obligations. However, the above states failed to meet this deadline; infringement procedures were initiated in January 2022 against 16 Member States, beginning with formal letters of notice.

Since January, cases against five countries – Spain, Lithuania, Slovakia, Cyprus and Luxembourg – have been closed, and two states – Malta and Czechia – are pending an analysis of their transposition measures.

The Single-Use Plastics Directive is a key component of the European Commission’s Plastic Strategy, which is an essential part of the Circular Economy Action Plan. These are core elements of the European Green Deal and the EU’s zero-pollution ambitions, based on their ability to accelerate the adoption of sustainable alternatives to the single-use plastic products that pollute our oceans and landscapes.

The measures that the Member States must put in place under the Directive are as follows:

  1. Prevent the use of single-use plastic products when sustainable alternatives are available and affordable.
  2. Reduce consumption of food containers and cups and promote reusable alternatives.
  3. Establish Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes for single-use plastic items.
  4. Collect 90% of single-use plastic bottles by 2029, e.g. by deposit-return schemes.
  5. Labelling requirements for single-use cups, tobacco products and sanitary products to inform the public of plastic content, minimising littering.
  6. Manufacturers of fishing gear containers to pay for the cost of waste collection from ports.

The Directive laid out a number of other specific targets, such as the separate collection of 77% of plastic bottles by 2025 and 90% by 2029, and also the 25% recycled material targets for single-use bottles by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

At Pakire Polymers, we are glad to see the EU taking their commitment to minimising single-use plastics, combatting plastic pollution and incentivising plastic recycling seriously. As well as serving as a warning to other EU Member States, this will also show leadership to governments around the world in tackling the problem of single-use plastics.

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