Ban on disposable plastic takes shape

The European Union has agreed on a ban on disposable plastic packaging, straws, cutlery and plates. Retailers support the ban but point out their limited responsibility - especially concerning litter.


Paying for litter

Last May, the European Commission declared war on disposable plastic; now an agreement in principle exists on a European directive that will likely be put in effect in two years. Plastic disposables such as straws, cutlery and plates will be banned. The same is true for food and drink packaging made of Styrofoam, stirrers and cotton swabs, balloon sticks and thin plastic bags.


Manufacturers of cigarette filters, balloons and certain food and drink packaging will have to start paying for the costs to clean up their litter from 2021 onward. Member states will have to collect 90 % of all plastic bottles by 2029. From 2030 onwards, all new plastic bottles will have to consist of at least 30 % recycled material. The use of disposable cups and fast food packagings will have to be reduced.


Retail federation EuroCommerce supports the measure but points out that retailers only have a limited impact on the issue. "Our sector’s commitment to sustainable use of plastics is absolutely clear, and we will continue to do all we can to respond to our customers’ demand for safe and sustainable products. We will of course observe the legislation, but must warn that there are elements which expect retailers to take responsibility for issues such as littering over which they can only have limited influence,” says general director Christian Verschueren.