New rules are being introduced for disposable plastic cups and single-use food packaging. For example, you will not be able to give these to your customers for free. The new rules aim to reduce the impact of plastic waste on the environment.
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Do you have a catering business, a company restaurant, a stall at a festival, or another point of sale (such as a shop) with a coffee corner? Then you must follow the new rules for disposable plastic cups and single-use food packaging:
- From 1 July 2023: customers must pay for disposable plastic cups and food packaging when they collect food or drinks or have them delivered. And you need to offer an alternative that can be reused.
- From 1 January 2024: if your customers eat or drink on your premises, you must not use disposable plastic cups and food packaging.
To which products do these rules apply?
- Plastic cups: The rules apply to all single-use plastic cups. This also includes cups that only partly consist of plastic. For example, paper coffee cups with a plastic coating.
- Food packaging: This is 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. Bags and wrappers are not included. For example, a bag to carry French fries or a wrapper on a sandwich.
The new rules also apply to disposable cups and food packaging made from bioplastics. For example, biodegradable plastic or plastic made from renewable raw materials. Bioplastics are as harmful to the environment as other plastics.
Takeaway and delivery: customers must pay for single-use plastic
From 1 July 2023, you cannot give single-use plastic cups and food packaging to your customer free of charge. You must also offer a reusable alternative to your customer. Such as a cup or packaging they supply themselves. Or a cup or packaging that customers can return with a deposit, or another type of return system.
Do you sell food and drinks in a supermarket using disposable plastic cups or food packaging? And can your customer eat or drink it immediately while they are out? Then customers must also pay for the cup or packaging.
These rules do not apply if your customer has to heat, cook or roast the food first. If they only have to peel or clean the food item, they can do this while they are out and the rules do apply.
Communicate with your customer
You should let your customers know that they can bring their own cup or food container. Or that you offer an alternative that can be returned.
Recommended prices for single-use cups or packaging
You can decide how much your customer must pay for a plastic cup or packaging. The government guidelines are:
- €0.25 for cups
- €0.50 for a meal (this can include several pieces of packaging)
- €0.05 for pre-packaged vegetables, fruit, nuts and portion packs
These amounts are based on research into the best price (in Dutch). Not too high, so that the customer will cooperate. Not too low, so that the measure has an effect.
Why must the customer pay?
Since 2016, there has been a ban on free plastic bags in the Netherlands. Since then, the number of plastic carrier bags thrown away has decreased by 70%.
Consumption on location: disposable plastic cups and food containers banned
From 1 January 2024, you can no longer offer disposable plastic cups and food packaging in places where customers immediately use them. For example, in your canteen, at the office, in your restaurant or snack bar, or at a festival. Reusable drinking cups and food packaging are becoming standard.
Exceptions to the new rules
Do you collect single-use plastics for high-quality recycling?
There is an exception for products that can be recycled into cups or food packaging. This currently only applies to cups or food packaging made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate). To use this exception, you must register with the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport, ILT). You also have to collect the materials yourself and submit them for high-quality recycling. The minimum percentage that you must collect increases annually (from 75% to 90%).
Healthcare institutions and closed institutions
Healthcare institutions and closed institutions are still allowed to use disposable plastic cups and packaging due to safety and hygiene regulations.
Municipal rules can be stricter
A General Municipal By-law (Algemene Plaatselijke Verordening, APV) may include stricter rules for specific locations or events. For example, that you must use reusable cups. Then the exception for high-quality recycling does not apply to you. Your event or stall permit may also contain specific conditions for the reuse of cups.
Do you sell for consumption on location, delivery and takeaway?
Then you must ask your customer if their order is to take away or to consume on your premises:
- If the customer wants to eat or drink on your premises, use reusable cups, plates or containers.
- If the customer orders food and drink to take away, you must offer a reusable alternative. The customer can then choose between a reusable alternative or pay extra for the disposable plastic cup or container.