Publication - Consultation paper

Market restrictions on single-use plastic items: consultation

This consultation proposes the introduction of market restrictions – effectively a ban – on the single-use plastic items included in Article 5 of the EU Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (2019/904).

25 page PDF

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25 page PDF

720.7 kB

Contents
Market restrictions on single-use plastic items: consultation
Definition of items subject to proposed market restrictions

25 page PDF

720.7 kB

Definition of items subject to proposed market restrictions

Single-use plastic balloon sticks

Balloon sticks are made of plastic that are attached to balloons to give the impression they are floating. The stick has a 'cup' attached so it can fix to the balloon without puncturing it. They are often used by restaurant chains, charities and the party sector. Although usually sold business to business, end users are often individuals, and mainly children.

Plastic balloon sticks which are to be attached to or support balloons for industrial or other professional uses and applications that are not distributed to consumers, including the mechanisms of such sticks, are proposed to be exempt from market restriction.

Examples of items included in the scope of market restrictions: single-use balloon stick made of plastic.

Examples of items excluded from the scope of market restrictions: plastic reusable balloon stands; balloon sticks intended for repeated use by professional decorators (considered to be multiple-use); and those covered by the exemption described above.

Single-use plastic straws

"Straws" typically refers to thin tubes used to suck liquid into the mouth[14]. Disposable plastic drinking straws are typically made of polypropylene, can be rigid or flexible, plain or coloured and they can come wrapped in paper or film for hygiene purposes, such as those attached to beverage cartons. They are sold to both commercial and domestic sectors.

Most straws are bought business-to-business and supplied in restaurants, pubs, hotels, retail and schools. Straws are also used in a medical context in order to safely administer pre-dosed medicines.

Flexible plastic straws can physically enable consumption of drinks, including hot drinks, and liquid food for medical purposes but also fulfil a social need for people relying on them as they support independent living and social inclusion for disabled people.

The Scottish Government recognises that some single-use items, made of plastics or other material, perform a vital function which cannot be easily replaced with a more sustainable alternative or provide crucial quality of life enhancing functions for disabled people. This is particularly true for plastic straws.

Single-use plastic straws are essential for some disabled people to be able to drink safely and conveniently, when in or out of their home, with proposed alternatives often being unsuitable due to flexibility, safety and cost. The SUP Directive requires EU Member States to heavily restrict access to single-use plastic straws for environmental purposes but affords exemptions where these are provided for medical use and to support independent living.

The Scottish Government wants to take an open approach and hear the views of disabled people on how best to satisfy the above requirements of the SUP Directive whilst maintaining access to single-use plastic straws for those who need them.

Examples of items included in the scope of market restrictions: disposable plastic drinking straws and non-plastic straws with plastic or biodegradable liners/coatings.

Examples of items excluded from the scope of market restrictions: plastic straws provided for medical use and to support independent living; non-plastic straws without plastic liners/coatings; non-plastic durable straws; and rigid plastic straws designed for multiple uses.

Single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks)

Cutlery typically refers to serve-ware used for eating food[15]. Disposable cutlery includes forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks and sporks (combined fork and spoon). They are often supplied for free to consumers being served food in catering and takeaway businesses, sold with ready meal foods or sold directly to consumers in supermarkets to be used at home.

Examples of items included in the scope of market restrictions: single-use plastic cutlery individually wrapped, such as on aircraft; mini tasting forks and spoons such as those sold with ice-cream tubs; combined forks and spoons with lunchtime pasta/salads; and single-use plastic cutlery made partly or fully from bio-based plastic.

Examples of items excluded from the scope of market restrictions: non-plastic cutlery without plastic liners/coatings; plastic multi-serve cutlery (e.g. serving utensils); non-plastic durable cutlery; and rigid plastic cutlery designed for multiple uses like camping gear.

Single-use plastic beverage stirrers

Stirrers (or beverage stirrers) typically refers to a small rigid rod used for mixing drinks[16]. These are mainly used in the hospitality sector, i.e. pubs, clubs and restaurants.

Examples of items included in the scope of the restrictions: single-use plastic stirrers used to help sugar dissolve in hot drinks or to mix drinks such as tea, coffee and various alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages.

Examples of items excluded from the scope of the SUP Directive: non-plastic stirrers without plastic liners/coatings and non-plastic durable stirrers.

Single-use plastic plates

Plates refers to a dish from which food is eaten or served[17]. They are typically flat and round, however they often come in a variety of different shapes and sizes and have many uses including serving plates, dinner plates, side plates and saucers. For the purpose of these proposals, trays/platters for services purposes and bowls will also be considered as plates.

Single-use plastic plates are often sold directly to consumers in supermarkets to be used at home but can also be supplied for free when food is served in catering and takeaway businesses.

Examples of items included in the scope of market restrictions: single-use plastic plates made of expanded polystyrene; single-use paper plates with plastic or 'biodegradable' lining; single-use plastic trays/platters used for hors d'oeuvres, canapes, lunch sandwiches and desserts; single-use plastic bowls used for soup; single-use plastic on-the-go salad bowls; and large capacity single-use plastic bowls for serving.

Examples of items excluded from the scope of market restrictions: non-plastic plates/trays/bowls without plastic liners/coatings; non-plastic or plastic reusable plates/trays/bowls; and ready-packaged salad bowls.

Single-use food containers made of expanded polystyrene, incl. their caps and lids

Food containers are receptacles such as boxes, with or without a cover, used to contain food which:

(a) is intended for immediate consumption, either on-the-spot or take-away,

(b) is typically consumed from the receptacle, and

(c) is ready to be consumed without any further preparation, such as cooking, boiling or heating.

This includes food containers used for fast food or other meals ready for immediate consumption but excludes beverage containers, plates, packets and wrappers containing food.

Market restrictions will only apply to food containers (including their caps and lids) made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS) which is considered a subset of EPS.

EPS/XPS food containers are mainly supplied to consumers at takeaway businesses (high street vendors and street food vendors such as burger/chip shops and kebab shops). Some are used by the hospitality sector in hotels, pubs and restaurants.

Single-use cups and other beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, incl. their covers, caps and lids

For the purpose of the SUP Directive, beverage containers are receptacles, with a capacity of up to three litres, used to contain liquid, such as beverage bottles or composite beverage packaging including their caps and lids, but not:

(a) glass or metal beverage containers that have caps and lids made of plastic,

(b) beverage containers intended and used for food for special medical purposes, that is in liquid form.

No beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene other than cups for beverages have been identified.

Cups for beverages are open usually bowl-shaped drinking vessels, with or without a cover or a lid, sold empty or containing beverages. Cups are mainly supplied for free to consumers when served a drink in catering and takeaway businesses, of which most are coffee shops/cafes. They are also sold in supermarkets to be used at home. These cups are most often utilised for hot drinks given the polystyrene's insulation properties.

Market restrictions will only apply to cups for beverages (including their covers and lids) that are made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS) which is considered a subset of EPS.

Products made from oxo-degradable plastics

Oxo-degradable plastic refers to plastic materials that include additives which, through oxidation, lead to the disintegration of the plastic material into micro-fragments or to chemical decomposition.

Although presented and marketed as biodegradable, a significant body of evidence suggests that, in reality, oxo-degradable plastics simply break down into small fragments. These contribute to harmful microplastic pollution[18] and negatively affect the recycling of conventional plastic.

For that reason, as well as the difficulty for the consumer to identify the material, stakeholders, including plastic packaging producers and waste managers, broadly agree that such products no longer have a place in the market[19].

Examples of items included in the scope of market restrictions: all products made of oxo-degradable plastic (not only single-use items) such as carrier bags, agricultural mulch films, plastic bottles[20], blister packaging, labels and caps.


Contact

Email: SUPD@gov.scot