Industry concerned over increasing fragmentation of internal market

European plastic packaging manufacturers are very concerned that many member states have either not implemented the mandatory requirements of the EU Single-use Plastics Directive (SUPD) in time or provide for exemptions and tightening.
Jasmin Sessler, Pixabay

Deadline for the transposition of EU-wide bans and marking rules into national legal frameworks was the 3rd of July 2021. Because the 2019 Directive was adopted in a great hurry, many of the provisions are unclear and in need of interpretation. The Commission’s guidelines on the scope of the directive, published only four weeks before the deadline, have brought little clarity for implementation.

“The room for interpretation leads to unexpected bias, e.g. banning fully recyclable plastics while excluding paper products coated with plastics in contradiction with the directive, and based on existing allowance for contaminants in EPR schemes” said Oliver Van Volden, Expert Packaging and Circular Economy at essenscia PolyMatters.

For few months now, essenscia, IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen, and EuPC are joining forces to evaluate the implementation across Members States and to point out the consequences of a patchwork of packaging laws for the consumers and companies in the EU.

“We are very concerned about the trend to break up the harmonized packaging rules in the internal market and to create special national rules, often on plastic packaging. This is dismantling piece by piece the EU’s greatest achievement, the single market for the exchange of goods – most of which are packaged in plastic. We call on the Commission to act as guardian of the treaties more strongly and to take more consistent action against such diverging national rules” said Martin Engelmann of the German Plastic Packaging Association IK.

An example of slow implementation are the EU bans on drinking straws, certain take-away packaging made of EPS and EPS disposable beverage cups, etc. According to research by the three associations, only 11 member states have implemented these bans so far. The situation is even worse for the marking rules for single-use beverage cups, which so far only apply in 5 Member States. The associations also criticise 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.

“These divergent national measures can, and in some cases already are, undermining the integrity of the Single Market and thus the basis for prosperity in the EU and an important prerequisite for achieving the ambitious circular economy targets.” said Alexandre Dangis, EuPC Managing Director.

EuPC is committed to the timely and directive-compliant implementation of the SUPD, even though we disagree with many of the requirements.


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