European Single Use Plastics (SUP) directive

The time has come! The European directive to restrict the use of Single Use Plastics goes into effect today. We use 19 million disposable plastic cups and plates daily in the Netherlands, which will hopefully change after today.

Which rules apply to you depends on the situation. In any case, there is a big push to offer reusable alternatives or bring your own packaging. If you don’t, you will have to pay extra. It makes a difference whether you eat or drink on location or have food and drinks delivered. We briefly explain the rules for each environment:

• Plastic disposable cups and trays/plates in the office
From 1st January 2024, this will no longer be allowed. You can use reusable packaging such as washable cups, glasses, hard cups, plates and trays. Or you can let people bring their own cups or tray.

• Plastic disposable cups and containers in retail (including supermarkets)
From 1st July 2023, shops must charge customers extra for portions of food and drink pre-packed with plastic. If you offer to-go food or beverages, you cannot provide free disposable cups and trays if they contain plastic packaging. You have to offer customers a reusable alternative.

• Plastic disposable cups and plates in the catering industry
The rules for takeaway food and drinks go into effect on 1st July 2023. Customers will have to pay extra for food and drinks in plastic packaging. Anyway, you have to offer a reusable alternative also.
From 1st January 2024, disposable plastic cups and containers will no longer be allowed on site.

Plastic disposable cups and containers during events
A distinction is made here between open and closed events. Disposable plastic cups and containers are no longer allowed at closed events from 1st January 2024. You will then be obligated to have a circular system where cups and containers are returned for reuse or high-quality recycling. At open events, from 1st July 2023, visitors will have to pay for a disposable plastic cup and container and be able to use a reusable alternative with a return system. Of course, bringing your own cup or container is also allowed.

• Plastic disposable cups and plates at sports clubs
Plastic disposable cups and containers will no longer be allowed here from 1st January 2024. This applies to all sports clubs where on-site consumption takes place. From 1st January 2024, they can choose between offering a reusable alternative or the members of the clubs bringing their own cup, water bottle or tray. Stocks of disposable cups and trays containing plastic must be exhausted before the ban takes effect on 1st January 2024.

Even cardboard variants often contain plastic

Many cups and containers that are made of cardboard also contain plastic to make them water- and grease-resistant. Even cups and containers with a ‘plastic-free’ label may contain plastic. So this label does not guarantee exclusion from regulation. In the Netherlands, plastic-free means that the product contains no (added) polymers. Be aware of other standards being applied abroad, which means that the plastic-free logo from Germany, for example, is not valid in the Netherlands. So it is wise to get proper advice. Cups and containers made of bioplastic also fall under the new regulations, as not all bioplastics are also biodegradable in nature. But we know of 2 brands of ‘bioplastic’ cups that are.

Looking for reusable plastic cups that are biodegradable?

There are two ‘bioplastic’ cups on the market that do biodegrade. These two are made of biopolymer PHA. The beauty of PHA is that it is made entirely biologically (by bacteria) and is also biodegradable on land and in the sea (by bacteria). So in case these reusable cups do end up in nature, they will break down there too. Curious about which two there are? Then check out the Wadkop and Happy Cups websites.

Need help?

If you can’t see the wood for the trees, we are happy to help! Ecoras can make an inventory for you to see whether you comply with the regulations and what is the most sustainable solution for you using an LCA (life cycle analysis).