EU harmonisation going backwards is the state of play for the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive’s first anniversary
A year ago, on the 3rd of July 2021, was the deadline for the transposition of EU-wide bans and marking rules into national legal frameworks of the EU Single-use Plastics Directive (SUPD).
For its first anniversary, the state of play is not at its best. European plastic packaging manufacturers are very concerned because not all the Member States have implemented the mandatory requirement of the SUPD in time. This is one of the consequences of the great hurry in which the 2019 Directive was adopted. Besides, the Commission's guidelines on the scope of the directive were published only four weeks before the deadline, which did not contribute to a harmonized implementation in the EU.
Despite the little clarity given by the Commission, there is still important room for interpretation by the Member States leading to unexpected bias. Several Member States are either going further in the restrictions or provide for exemptions and tightening.
For a year now, essenscia, IKIndustrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen, and EuPC are joining forces to evaluate the implementation across Members States. Even if the maps designed by the three associations demonstrate the evolution of the situation, it is still possible to point out, after a year, the consequences of a patchwork of packaging laws for the consumers and companies in the EU.
The internal market is fragmented more than ever with the increasing establishment of special national rules which undermine its integrity.
According to research by the three associations, so far, only 13 member states have implemented the restrictions foreseen in the Directive.
The plastics industry is also very worried by the attempts of several Member States to introduce more far-reaching bans, e.g. for fruit and vegetable packaging, as well as country specific labelling regulations. The Commission should fulfill its responsibility by acting as guardian of the EU treaties more strongly and taking more consistent action against such diverging national rules in order to achieve the ambitious circular economy targets.
EuPC is committed to the timely and directive-compliant implementation of the SUPD, even though we disagree with many of the requirements.
“The fragmentation of the market is likely to increase as some Members States are planning bans instead of reduction of consumption by focusing on any SUP, while having deployed state of the art waste management, full plastic collection, and recycling. The transition to circular economy imposes to look at the overall sustainable services to society delivered by plastics and SUPD“ said Olivier Van Volden, Expert Packaging and Circular Economy at essenscia.