New labelling requirements for single use plastics

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The Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) came into effect in the European Union on 3 July 2021. SUPD is a wide ranging directive that seeks to reduce marine pollution from plastic products that are made for single use. As well as banning some single-use plastics, SUPD contains various awareness-raising measures to encourage consumers to buy less plastic. Member states must take measures to inform consumers about the availability of reusable alternatives and the impact of littering, as well as introduce a ban on certain single use plastic products including expanded polystyrene food containers and cups, plastic stirrers, cotton bud sticks and plastic cutlery. Another of these measures is a requirement that single-use plastic products carry a label alerting the consumer that the product contains plastic.

From 3 July 2021, EU member states must require that single use plastic cups, sanitary products, wet wipes and tobacco products carry a label informing consumers of the presence of plastic in the product including a picture of a dying turtle (see below), the negative impact of littering, and the product’s appropriate waste disposal options on its packaging. Note that it is the responsibility of the member states to implement the labelling requirement, products exported to the EU from non EU member states do not need to carry the mark. Since the UK’s departure from the EU, SUPD does not apply to England, Scotland or Wales but, as part of the Northern Ireland protocol, it does apply in Northern Ireland. Whereas SUPD came into effect on the July 2021 in EU member states, Northern Ireland has been given until 1 January 2022 to implement the directive. Scotland and Wales are consulting on their own devolved legislation which aims to meet the SUPD requirements.