Is Your Business Eco-Friendly? How Well Do You Know Your Plastics Packaging Regulations?

Is Your Business Eco-Friendly? How Well Do You Know Your Plastics Packaging Regulations?

, by Maeve Reidy, 5 min reading time

These days, every business wants to be green and eco-friendly. But does your business know enough, especially about the Plastics Packaging Regulations to be able to make knowledgeable decisions?

Let's face it - some businesses are forward-looking and innovative in their inventions and production methods ... but when it comes to packaging, they're stick-in-the-muds using packaging methods that may have been cost-effective at one stage, but are now actively damaging the environment with pollutants.

Very often, a business might get a "lightbulb moment" and make an Executive Decision that they're going to Reduce Plastics. However, this can sometimes be perceived as "greenwashing" by their customers, as they're not 100% sure what exactly the regulations and directives say ...


Ireland and the EU

Ireland is part of the EU ... and it took quite a long time! Ireland first applied for membership of what was then known as the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1961, but it had gone into cold storage by 1963. Ireland applied again in 1967 but Charles de Gaulle in France vetoed it. Thankfully(!) De Gaulle resigned in 1969 so membership negotiations with Ireland were able to go ahead in 1970. In May 1972 an Irish Referendum was passed with a large majority and Ireland formally joined what was then known as the European Economic Community (EEC) in January 1973. The European Union (EU) was formed in 1993, and the European Economic Community (EEC) then became known as the European Communities (EC) which was incorporated into the EU in 2009 ... phew!

One of the many things that the EU does is to examine and issue directives that affect all 27 member states of the EU ... including tackling climate change and plastic packaging ...

EU Single-Use Plastics Directive

Effective Date: May 2019, with expected compliance of member states immediately.

What it is: Proposed in May 2018, the Single-Use Plastics Directive (‘SUP Directive’) was the result of numerous studies into the harmful effects of certain packaging materials and consumables. The aim is to effectively phase out single-use plastics in a bid to reduce marine contamination and pollution, 85% of which can be attributed to plastic waste, whilst moving towards manufacturing models that favour reusable materials, promote easy recycling, and end user awareness.

Initially designed to tackle plastic waste and abandoned fishing equipment frequently found on beaches, the plastic packaging directive was expanded to also include items made from bio-based and biodegradable single-use plastics. Materials are assessed to determine which category of waste they fall into and then a course of action is decided upon, ranging from total bans to encouraged reduced use and finally, Extended Producer Responsibility schemes (‘EPR).

Categories and courses of action are as follows:

Items with alternatives freely available already: Banned by mid-2021

Banned items: straws, drinks stirrers and disposable cutlery, cotton bud sticks, plates (plastic-lined paper options included), balloon sticks, expanded polystyrene food containers (including cups and general beverage holders) and oxo-degradable plastics. Single-use options will no longer be produced at all.

Products with comparable alternatives not yet readily available: Consumption reduction

Items to be used less: food containers and cups for drinks (including any covers or lids). This will be achieved through encouraged use of reusable containers, deposit return schemes (‘DRS’) and restrictions on certain items.

Items already addressed by existing EU law: Position strengthening and EPR compliance

This includes things such as lightweight plastic bags, fishing equipment and food containers. Most of these are already being covered by EPR schemes that aim to reduce the amount of non-recyclable properties by at least 50%, by placing the onus of end-of-life responsibility firmly on original manufacturers, with financial penalties in place for non-compliance. Producers are expected to cover costs for waste collection, any necessary treatments and should be proactive about keeping end users informed about environmental impact.

Other single-use plastics: Full EPR scheme compliance

By 5th January 2023, all producers will have to work with EPR schemes to tackle waste created by their products which do not fall into the previous categories. EU beaches have seen a high volume of balloons, tobacco packaging and sanitary waste washing ashore, which will need to be tackled directly by the producers through waste collection and effective product labelling and awareness campaigns aimed squarely at end users.

Affected parties: All EU member states and any producers operating within them. All companies, at every stage of the supply chain, will need to be fully compliant with the SUP Directive. This includes large conglomerates, (eg: Coca-Cola et al) who will have to comply at local levels, putting waste management practices and awareness initiatives into place. Strong enforcement is expected in all member states, with each being directly responsible for local compliance. Though the overall rules are uniform, local law adaptations will be necessary, meaning that as a whole, the EU will be shown to be making positive steps, but individually, each member state is playing its part.

Impact on end users: If done correctly, there should be minimum disruption to users as viable alternatives to traditional products should be filtered into the supply chain seamlessly. It is likely that price fluctuations will occur initially, but with proper awareness campaigns in place, users will understand the value in making single-use plastic a packaging norm of the past.


Happily, you have discovered ShredPack! We have a wide range of packaging products that are not only eco-friendly, but could also shred your packaging costs with our cost-effective solutions! Find out more about our eco-friendly packaging solutions here.


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