From 3 July 2021, producers and importers may no longer market certain products made of single-use plastic. These include cutlery, plates, and straws. You are still permitted to sell existing stocks if you own a store, wholesaler, or hospitality venue. Read here which rules will apply to disposable plastics.
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Why measures against single-use plastics?
Plastic has many useful properties. But plastic waste is increasingly ending up in the oceans and seas (plastic soup). This can make fish and other marine animals ill. With the new Single-Use Plastics (SUP) guidelines, the European Union wants to reduce the plastic soup. The rules relate to the products that wash up most on European beaches. Good, affordable alternatives already exist for those.
Ban on single-use products
From 3 July 2021 onwards, you will no longer be allowed to market products made of disposable plastic in EU member states. This applies to products made entirely or partially of plastic.
- straws – except for medical use
- cotton tips – except for medical use
- balloon rods – except for professional or industrial use
- food packaging, cups, and beverage containers made of polystyrene foam
- all products made of oxo-degradable synthetics (plastic that breaks down in contact with sunlight, heat, or air)
Are you not sure whether your product falls under the ban? Check the Single-Use Plastics Decision Tree (in Dutch) offered by the Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging (Kennisinstituut Duurzaam Verpakken, KIDV).
Marking with information on plastic
Starting 3 July 2021, you will have to print a marking on the item or on the packaging of certain products. The marking states:
- in which wastebin the product belongs;
- that it contains plastic;
- the environmental consequences of littering.
You must print a marking on this product:
- disposable cups.
For the following products, you must print a marking on the packaging:
- wet wipes;
- tampons and tampon applicators;
- sanitary towels;
- tobacco products with filters and loose filters for tobacco products.
Use the standard markings. You can find the standard markings in various languages on the website of the European Commission.
For products that you market before 4 July 2022, you may also apply the marking by means of a sticker on the product or the packaging. After that, you must print the marking directly on the product or packaging.
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) will apply to a number of products. This means that you will have to contribute to the collection of waste and the clearing up of litter if you are a producer of such products. The EPR will enter into force in phases, starting 5 January 2023. The precise terms of this scheme are still under discussion.
EPR as of 5 January 2023:
- Tobacco products with filters
- Single-serve food packaging
- Disposable cups
- Bags and wrappers
- Light plastic carrier bags
- Beverage containers
EPR as of 31 December 2024:
- Fishing gear
- Wet wipes
Rules for bottles and beverage containers
For beverage containers, the caps must remain attached to the container during use. This rule will enter into force on 3 July 2024.
This does not apply to:
- bottles and beverage containers for medical use;
- bottles and beverage containers with a capacity of more than 3 litres.
From 2025: bottles made of recycled material
- From 2025, 25% of the material of a PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle must consist of recycled material.
- From 2030, 30% of the material of all bottles must be recycled material.
The exact date for these rules to come into force is not yet known. The European Committee for Standardization is still working out exactly what requirements the products will have to comply with.
Frequently asked questions
- All polymers that do not occur naturally.
- Natural polymers that have been chemically modified.
This definition includes products made from bio-based and biodegradable plastics. And products (such as wet wipes) made from viscose.
The European Commission is working on a guide to help you assess whether products are made of plastic. This guide will be available on Business.gov.nl as soon as it is published.
When a product is not conceived, designed, or marketed to be used more than once. For example, when it is not sturdy enough to be cleaned for reuse. Or the product is not dishwasher safe.
From 3 July 2021 onwards, you may no longer market these products in the Netherlands. You may still sell or use existing stocks if you have a store or wholesaler. This is because these products have effectively already been put on the market. Orders you have already placed also fall under existing stock.
There is no deadline for clearing your existing stock. However, you must be able to prove that it actually is existing stock. For example, with an order list or invoice.
Are you an importer or manufacturer? Then the legal measures will apply to your stock after 3 July 2021. This is because such stock has not yet been put on the market at that time.
What does 'put on the market' mean?
Are you uncertain whether you are placing a product from your stock on the market for the first time? The EU Blue Guide explains in chapter 2.2 what ‘making available on the market’ means. Please note that the Blue Guide refers to what it means to make a product available on the EU market. This law refers to making available on the market of the specific member state.
Yes, you may sell single-use plastic cups. However, the cups must have a standard marking. The marking makes it clear that the cup is made of plastic and does not belong in the environment.
From 5 January 2023, extended producer responsibility will apply for single-use plastic cups. This means that you will have to contribute to the collection of the cups and the prevention of litter.
In the coming years, the government will also take extra measures against the use of single-use plastic cups and food containers. The government will outline these measures in greater detail.
Single-use cups made of styrofoam (EPS) or oxo-degradable plastics will be prohibited from 3 July 2021.
This law also applies to products that are partially made of plastic. For example, because they have a plastic coating. Check which measures apply to the product if it is partially made of plastic.
This law also applies to single-use products made of recycled plastic. Recycling plastic is good for the environment. By reusing it, you emit less CO2. But recycled plastic does not decompose in nature either. So, the problems it causes in nature and in the sea are the same as with ordinary plastic. When you use recycled plastic, also check the measures that apply to that product.
This law also applies to single-use products made from bioplastics (bio-based or biodegradable). There are many types of bioplastics. For example, plastic made from corn, corn stalks, or sugar cane. It may be better for the environment to use non-fossil raw materials. But bioplastics do not break down quickly enough in nature. Litter from bioplastics causes the same problems as ordinary plastic.
Ban on oxo-degradable plastics
All products made of oxo-degradable plastic will be banned after 3 July 2021. These products appear to be biodegradable. This is not the case. When the plastic comes into contact with oxygen and sunlight, it breaks down into small pieces. These microplastics end up in nature and are very harmful.
As an alternative, you can choose reusable products. These are intended and made for reuse. Or you can choose single-use products without plastic.
Single-use products made of the following materials are permitted:
- other natural materials without additives or chemical modifications
These products must comply with all other European product requirements. Pay close attention to the rules for food contact materials. Materials intended to come into contact with food must meet stricter hygiene requirements. Because of their natural raw material, some bio-based products do not look like plastic, even if they are. You may only use products that consist entirely of natural polymers. In practice, additives are always used for bioplastics. That is why they also fall under the laws for single-use plastics.
Some products on the market are made of water-repellent paper. Check whether such a product meets the product requirements for food contact materials.
Are you doubting whether a product is permitted as an alternative? The Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging (KIDV) can inform you about packaging materials.
For single-use cups, the marking should be printed on each cup. For tobacco and hygiene products, the marking should be on the (primary) packaging. Packaging smaller than 10 cm2 does not need to be marked.
Yes. You can find the standard markings in different languages on the website of the European Commission. You print the marking in the language of the member state where the product will be marketed. If you market the products in several member states, apply the markings in each of the relevant languages.
Yes, because the product is partially made of plastic.