Rules for plastic cups and containers (disposable plastic)

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Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you sell food and drinks or do you offer food and drinks in disposable plastic cups and containers (single-use plastics)? Then the following rules apply:

  • Your customers must pay for disposable plastic cups and containers if they collect or have food delivered. For example, takeaway and delivery restaurants, food trucks, kiosks, supermarkets and retailersand open events (there is no enclosure or controlled access).
  • If customers eat or drink at your premises, you cannot use disposable plastic cups and containers. For example in restaurants, offices, events with controlled access, businesses, and institutions (this does not apply to care institutions).

For which plastic cups and containers must your customer pay?

If you offer food and drinks to go in plastic cups and containers your customer must pay for these cups and containers:

  • All single-use plastic cups. This includes cups that only partly consist of plastic. For example, paper coffee cups with a plastic coating.
  • Plastic packaging from which food can be eaten directly, without further preparation. The packaging consists entirely or partly of plastic and is intended to be used only once. For example, a plastic dish containing French fries or a salad. Or small containers with portion packs, such as nuts, vegetables, and dairy products.

This includes takeaway and delivery restaurants, food trucks, kiosks, supermarkets and retail, and open events (in Dutch).

No free plastic bags

You are not allowed to give your customer a free plastic bag. Your customer has to pay for a plastic bag (recommended price €0.25). You can give away a bag for free if it is made of more sustainable material, such as paper or fabric. In some cases you can give away a thin plastic bag for free. For instance to protect unpackaged food, to capture leakage of fluids from raw fish, raw meat, or raw poultry from unsealed packaging, prevent food waste, or to seal fluids, aerosol cans, and gels in tax-free shops, such as at the airport.

How much should your customer pay for a plastic cup or container?

You can choose the amount your customer must pay for a plastic disposable cup or meal container. The guidelines are:

  • € 0,25 for a cup
  • € 0,50 for a meal that can consist of multiple containers
  • € 0,05 for containers with single servings of vegetables, fruit, yoghurt, spreads, or sauce

You have to add the amount you receive for the plastic cups and containers separately on the bill. The VAT rate you have to pay over the amount you get for the packaging, depends on the contents of the container. For example for a disposable plastic cup for coffee this the low VAT rate (9%), but for a cup of beer, for instance, this is the standard rate of 21%.

When can you give away containers and cups for free?

You are allowed to give away food and drinks containers (including cups) for free only if they are:

  • reusable cups and containers (even if they contain plastic)
  • bags, foils, and wraps (flexible packaging)
  • containers and cups without plastic, such as wood or paper

Food and drink on site

You cannot offer food and drinks in disposable cups and containers that contain plastic if people eat and drink at your premises. For example at:

There are some exceptions for the on site use of disposable cups and containers. For example for care institutions.

Offering reusable alternatives or bring your own

You must offer your customers a reusable alternative, for example:

  • You use washable cups, glasses, plates, and trays on site.
  • You offer cups or containers that they can return later.
  • Your customers bring their own containers and cups (bring your own).

If a customer brings their own container or cup, they are responsible for the hygiene of the food from the moment they accept it. You can refuse a brought container or cup if you have reason to believe it is not clean.

Exception for recycling

If you have a collection system for high-quality recycling of plastic cups and containers, the ban on free plastic cups and containers does not apply. High-quality recycling means collecting the cups and containers and reusing them as packaging material for food or drinks after recycling. The exception applies only if you collect at least 75% (in 2024). The percentage increases each year to 90% in 2027. If you want to use the exception to the disposable ban, you must first report it through the notification scheme for single-use plastic products (in Dutch).

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