What’s wrong with the EU SUP guidelines? Objection? Supported?

Recyclable Packaging – HuiZhou YITO Packaging Co., Ltd.


What’s wrong with the EU SUP guidelines? Objection? Supported?


Core reading: The governance of plastic pollution has always been controversial, and there are also different voices within the SUP European Union.


According to Article 12 of the Disposable Plastics Directive, the European Commission must issue this guideline before July 3, 2021. The publication of this guideline has been delayed for nearly a year, but it has not changed any of the deadlines specified in the directive.

The Disposable Plastics Directive (EU) 2019/904 specifically prohibits the use of certain disposable plastic products, including:


Tableware, plates, straws (excluding medical devices), beverage mixers


Some food containers made of expanded polystyrene


Beverage containers and cups made of expanded polystyrene


And products made of oxidizable and degradable plastics


Effective from July 3, 2021.


Do different member countries support or oppose this guideline? It is still difficult to reach a consensus and even show completely different opinions.

Italy strongly opposes it because the only allowed use is recyclable recycled plastic.


The European SUP (Disposable Plastics) directive has had an impact on the development of the Italian plastic industry and has been criticized by senior Italian officials for prohibiting biodegradable and compostable plastics, with Italy leading the way in this regard.


Confindustria also criticized the SUP Directive application guidelines approved by the European Commission, which extended the ban to products with plastic content below 10%.


Ireland supports the SUP directive, reducing reliance on disposable plastics and focusing on recycling.


Ireland hopes to guide innovation in this field through clear policy incentives. These are some steps they will take:

(1) Launch deposit refund program


The Circular Economy Waste Action Plan promises to launch a deposit and refund program for plastic bottles and aluminum beverage cans by autumn 2022. The response received from the public consultation shows that citizens are very eager to implement this plan as soon as possible.


Addressing the issue of sup is not only about preventing waste, but also requires a broader consideration of the transformation of the circular economy, which should be seen as one of the key actions taken by all sectors to address climate change.


Ireland has a great opportunity to adopt and promote practices and actions to reduce resource consumption in order to achieve our circular economy plan. It is estimated that due to the loss of plastic packaging materials, the global economy loses $8-120 billion annually – only 5% of the material value is retained for further use.

(2) Reduce dependence on SUP


In our Circular Economy Waste Action Plan, we are committed to significantly reducing the number of SUP cups and food containers we use. We will explore more mechanisms to reduce the use of disposable plastic products, such as wipes, plastic bags containing toiletries, and food flavoring bags.


Our first concern is the 22000 coffee cups processed every hour in Ireland. This is completely avoidable, as there are reusable alternatives and individual consumers choose to reduce usage, which is crucial for the transition period of command execution.


We hope to encourage consumers to make the right choices through the following measures:


Similar to the plastic bag tax, it will be levied on all disposable (including compostable/biodegradable) coffee cups in 2022.


Starting from 2022, we will try to prohibit the use of non essential disposable cups (such as sitting in a coffee shop)


Starting from 2022, we will also force retailers to lower prices for consumers who are willing to use reusable cups.


We will conduct pilot projects in selected suitable locations and towns, completely eliminating coffee cups, and ultimately achieving a complete ban.


Support festival or other large-scale event organizers to shift from disposable products to reusable products through licensing or planning systems.

(3) Make producers more responsible


In a true circular economy, producers must be responsible for the sustainability of the products they put on the market. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an environmental policy approach in which producer responsibility extends to the post consumption stage of the product lifecycle.


In Ireland, we have successfully used this method to handle many waste streams, including discarded electrical equipment, batteries, packaging, tires, and agricultural plastics.


Based on this success, we will introduce new EPR solutions for many SUP products:


Tobacco products containing plastic filters (before January 5, 2023)


Wet wipes (before December 31, 2024)


Balloon (before December 31, 2024)


Although not technically an SUP project, we will also introduce a policy targeting plastic fishing gear before December 31, 2024 to reduce marine plastic waste.

(4) Prohibit placing these products on the market


The directive will take effect on July 3rd, and from that date, the following disposable plastic products will be prohibited from being placed on the Irish market:












Polystyrene cups and food containers


Cotton swab


All products containing oxidative degradable plastics (not just disposable plastic products)

In addition, from July 3, 2024, any beverage container (bottle, cardboard box, etc.) that does not exceed 3 liters will be prohibited from being sold in the Irish market.


Starting from January 2030, any plastic bottles that do not contain 30% recyclable ingredients will also be banned from use.

Selected Overseas Chinese News:


Starting from July 3rd, EU member states will have to bid farewell to the use of disposable and biodegradable plastics, and only allow the use of recyclable plastics. The European Commission has ruled that they cannot be placed on the EU market because it believes that plastics are harmful to marine life, biodiversity, and our health. Reducing the use of disposable plastic products can help protect human and Earth health.


This policy may greatly affect the lives and work of our Chinese and street friends.


Let’s take a look at which items will gradually be replaced by sustainable alternatives after July 3rd:


For example, in the party, balloons, bottle caps with a capacity of no more than 3 liters, polystyrene foam cups, disposable tableware, straws, and plates, only reusable products are allowed to be used.


The food packaging industry will also be forced to transform, with food packaging no longer using biodegradable plastics and only using paper.


There are also sanitary napkins, tampons, wipes, bags, and cotton swabs. The filter tips of cigarettes will also change, and the fishing industry will also ban the use of plastic tools (according to Greenpeace, 640000 tons of fishing nets and tool plastic are discarded in the ocean every year, and in fact, they are the main culprits in destroying the ocean)


These products will be controlled through different measures, such as reducing their consumption and producers paying ‘pollution fees’.


Of course, such measures have also attracted criticism and controversy from many countries, as this move will also have a significant impact on 160000 jobs and the entire plastic industry in Italy.


And Italy is also making every effort to resist, in the past few hours, Roberto Cingolani, Minister of Ecological Transformation, attacked: “The EU’s definition of plastic ban is very strange. You can only use recyclable plastics and do not allow the use of biodegradable plastics. Our country is leading in the field of biodegradable plastics, but we cannot use them because there is a ridiculous directive that says’ only recyclable plastics can be used ‘.


This may also affect the export of small goods from China. In the future, exporting plastic products to EU countries may be subject to restrictions and material requirements. The European Union does attach great importance to environmental protection, which is why there are so many famous beaches, beautiful and clear seas, and lush forests.


I don’t know if everyone has noticed, for example, fast food like McDonald’s has quietly replaced plastic straws and cup lids with paper lids and straw lids. Perhaps in the early stages of the implementation of the measures, people may not be accustomed to them, but gradually they will be accepted as the norm.


Review of EU plastic policy priorities and objectives:


Great changes are coming soon, but if we accept them, we can gain economic, environmental, and social benefits, and put Ireland at the forefront of a circular economy transformation.

1. Establish a closed-loop system to minimize the import and export volume of plastics


Previously, the usual treatment method for waste plastics in Europe was to transport them to China and other Asian countries, or small businesses in South America. And these small enterprises have very limited capacity to handle plastic, and ultimately the waste can only be abandoned or buried in rural areas, causing serious environmental pollution. Now, China has closed the door to “foreign waste”, which drives the European Union to strengthen its treatment of plastics.


2. Build more plastic backend processing infrastructure


3. Enhance plastic reduction at the source and promote recycling


Strengthening plastic reduction at the source should be the main direction of future plastic policies. To reduce the generation of waste, priority should be given to source reduction and reuse, while recycling should only be an “alternative plan”.


4. Improve product recyclability


The ‘alternative plan’ of recycling refers to the policy of encouraging manufacturers to improve the durability of their products and setting a minimum recycling content (i.e. the proportion of recyclable materials that a plastic packaging contains) in response to the unavoidable use of plastic. Here, ‘Green Public Procurement’ should become one of the important industry standards.


5. Discuss the possibility of levying a plastic tax


The European Union is currently discussing whether to levy a plastic tax, but whether its specific policies will be implemented is still uncertain.

Mr. Favoino also gave some EU plastic recycling rates: the global plastic recycling rate is only 15%, while in Europe it is 40% -50%.

This is thanks to the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system established by the European Union, under which manufacturers are required to bear a portion of the recycling costs. However, even with such a system, only 50% of plastic packaging in Europe is recycled. So, the recycling of plastics is far from enough.


If no measures are taken according to current trends, global plastic production will double by 2050, and the weight of plastic in the ocean will exceed the total weight of fish.


Feel free to discuss with William : williamchan@yitolibrary.com


Post time: Oct-16-2023