Single-use Plastics

5 May 2021

Single use plastics_by_Harry Wedzinga

Single-use plastic products (SUPs) are used once, or for a short period of time, before being thrown away. The 10 most commonly found single-use plastic items represent 70% of all marine litter in the EU.

The EU aims to reduce the volume and impact of specific plastic products on the environment through Directive (EU) 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. This is commonly referred to as the Single Use Plastics Directive.

The Directive commits member states to introduce a range of measures to deal with the most common single use plastic items and is to be transposed by 3 July 2021.

Ireland will comply with the Directive by ensuring the following SUP items will be banned from being placed on the Irish market from 3 July 2021:

  • Cotton Bud Sticks
  • Cutlery
  • Plates
  • Stirrers
  • Chopsticks
  • Straws
  • Expanded polystyrene single use food and beverage containers
  • All oxo-degradable plastic products

Beverage containers (bottles, cartons) up to 3 litres in size will be banned from the Irish market from 3 July 2024, unless its cap is attached to the main part of the container. Beverage producers will also be prohibited from placing any SUP polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle up to 3 litres in size on the Irish market from January 2025 unless it contains a minimum of 25% recycled plastic. From January 2030 these bottles must contain a minimum of 30% recycled plastic.

By 5 January 2023, producers of packaging will be required to cover the costs of litter clean up, in addition to their existing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) obligations associated with the following SUP items:

  • food containers
  • packets
  • wrappers
  • beverage containers
  • cups
  • light weight carrier bags

The EU Commission will be producing guidance on how this is to be calculated and we will be publishing that when it is available.

By 5 January 2023, producers of tobacco products which contain plastic will be subject to an EPR scheme. By 31 December 2024, producers of balloons, wet wipes and fishing gear will also be subject to an EPR scheme.

In order to maximise their recyclability, we will achieve a separate collection rate of 90% for plastic bottles. A Deposit and Return Scheme (DRS) will be introduced to achieve this.

The producers of wet wipes, tobacco products containing plastic, sanitary items and cups must ensure that the marking requirements of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2151 are contained on their packaging or products, as appropriate. In accordance with this regulation, the marking must contain both official languages of Ireland. This regulation is also available as Gaeilge.

General guidance is expected from the EU Commission on the scope of the products included within this Directive. We will also publish this guidance once it is available