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SUP Directive, Legislative Decree 196/21. New rules on single-use plastic items from 14.1.22

Legislative Decree 196/21 - implementing the SUP directive (Single-Use Plastics Directive, 2019/904 / EC) - prohibits the placing on the market of certain disposable plastic items (e.g. dishes and containers), products made of oxo-degradable plastic (with additives capable of fragmenting or decomposing it) and fishing gear containing plastic , starting from 14.1.22. (1)

The national legislation also introduces incentives for the purchase and use of substitute products, reduction targets and marking requirements for other categories of objects in plastic materials. In addition to specifying the extended producer responsibility criteria and defining the sanctioning regime. There are, moreover, two important exceptions with respect to the EU directive. Focus on plastics and MOCA.

1) EU PROHIBITIONS AND ITALIAN DEROGATIONS

1.1) Prohibited items

The prohibitions concern a series of commonly used items such as cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks), plates, straws, drink stirrers, food and drink containers, as well as glasses and cups in expanded polystyrene (Legislative Decree 196/21 , article 5.1 and Annex, Part BV note 2).

A transitional regime is established in favor of products which operators can demonstrate their introduction on the market prior to the entry into force of the decree (14.1.22), which may be marketed until stocks are exhausted (Article 5.2).

1.2) Italian derogation from plastic coatings

A first derogation (to the Italian) it concerns the definition of 'plastic' which in the legislative decree 196/21 excludes the 'plastic coatings weighing less than 10% by weight total product, which are not the main structural component of the finished products'. In addition to paints and adhesives with similar characteristics.

In this way plastic-coated cardboard plates, to cite an example, are removed from the ban on the sale and use of disposable plastic plates. Although they are also intended to be excluded from the definition of plastic (Article 3.1.a).

1.3) Italian derogations from the EU ban

Only in Italy, as announced, the above prohibition does not apply to disposable items in biodegradable and compostable plastic - if certified as compliant with European standards UNI EN 13432 or UNI EN 14995 and produced with at least 40% renewable raw material (60%, from 1.1.24) - if the following hypotheses occur:

to) 'where it is not possible to use reusable alternatives to single-use plastic products intended to come into contact with food'. In this way, bioplastic with paper, cardboard and other materials (eg. Bamboo, banana leaves, ..),

b) where the use is foreseen in 'controlled circuits'who deliver waste to the public separate collection service'in an ordinary and stable way'(e.g. canteens, nursing homes),

c) if the alternatives 'in consideration of the specific circumstances of time and place do not provide adequate guarantees in terms of hygiene and safety',

d) 'in consideration of the particular type of food or drink'. Unclear concept, which could perhaps refer to the hypothesis of products intended for people with food allergies and / or intolerances, or intended for a particular diet (pursuant to EU regulation 609/13)

And) 'in circumstances involving the presence of a large number of people'. Events that on the contrary should require the utmost attention to the risk of dispersion of plastic waste,

f) 'where the environmental impact of the reusable product is worse than the biodegradable and compostable disposable alternatives, based on a life cycle analysis by the manufacturer '. Incredible but true (art.5.3).

2) REDUCTION OF CONSUMPTION

2.1) SUP categories to be reduced

The reduction of consumption of disposable plastic objects must also be oriented towards other categories of SUP. First of all disposable glasses and cups, which the European legislator has shamefully removed from the ban. But also caps and lids, food containers intended for immediate consumption (on the spot or to take away), without the need for further preparation (eg cooking, boiling or heating). (3)

The objective to reach a 'quantifiable reduction'measurable consumption of these products by 2026, in comparison with 2022, must be pursued through a series of activities that include the monitoring of flows, the development and application of production and distribution processes and innovative technologies.

2.2) Research, development and experimentation

Research, development and experimentation must be expressed in durable and reusable products, water and drinks on tap and any other useful solution, also taking into account positive experiences in other EU countries.

The ministers of the ecological transition and economic development, the regions and autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano will stipulate program agreements and contracts with public bodies, companies, public or private entities and trade associations for this purpose (Article 4).

2.3) Incentives to replace SUPs

A tax credit of 20% - up to € 10 thousand for each operator, for a total amount of € 3 million / year, from 2022 to 2024 - is established in favor of companies that purchase and use substitute products Single-Use Plastics (Art. 4.7).

Replacement products subject to tax credit must be reusable, or made with biodegradable or compostable material, certified in accordance with UNI EN 13432: 2002 standard.

3) PRODUCT REQUIREMENTS AND MARKING

3.1) Product requirements (Article 6)

New requirements of design and manufacturing are also introduced, for some products, in the medium and long term:

- the containers with plastic caps and lids can be used - starting from 3.7.24, subject to the exhaustion of stocks of products already placed on the market - only if made in such a way as to remain attached to the containers for the entire duration foreseen for use of the product. With the exception of only the plastic seals on metal caps and lids,

- Beverage bottles manufactured with polyethylene terephthalate as main component (e.g. PET bottles) must contain at least 25% recycled plastic from 2025, 30% from 2030 (article 6).

3.2) Marking requirements (Article 7)

Marking requirements are established for some single-use plastic products referred to in Part D of the Annex. Plastic cups and glasses, among others. (4) The marking must be clearly legible and indelible, as required by reg. UE 2020/2151 - and indicate to the consumer:

- the waste management methods consistent with the collection systems in use,

- the presence of plastic in the product,

- the negative impact on the environment of dispersion or other improper forms of waste disposal (Article 7).

4) Extended Producer Responsibility (IS FOR)

Extended responsibility from the manufacturer (Extended Producer Responsibility, EPR) involves the participation of producers, 'in proportion to the weight of the plastic component compared to that of the product', to costs related to:

- consumer awareness measures (pursuant to Article 10),

- collection of waste for such products delivered to public collection systems, including the infrastructure and its operation and the subsequent transport and treatment of such waste,

- removal of waste dispersed by these products and their subsequent transport and treatment.

Waste management from disposable plastic products referred to in part E, section I, of the Annex (if not already in place) must be organized by 31.12.24 in the packaging systems referred to in Legislative Decree 152/06. That is, by 5.1.23, in the context of specific systems to be established by decree (see notes 5 and 6).

Dario Dongo and Luca Foltran

Notes

(1) Legislative Decree 8.11.21 no. 196. Implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/904, of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. In GU 30.11.21, General Series n. 285, Ordinary Supplement n. 41. https://bit.ly/31bzmOp

(2) The prohibitions on placing on the market concern: 1) cotton buds, 2) cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks), 3) plates, 4) straws (with some exemptions), 5) stirrers for drinks, 6) poles to be attached to support balloons, 7) Expanded polystyrene food containers, i.e. containers such as boxes with or without lids, used for food which jointly meet the following criteria: a) are intended for immediate consumption, on the spot or by take away, b) are generally consumed directly from the container, c) are ready for consumption without further preparation, for example cooking, boiling or reheating, including containers for fast food or other ready-to-eat meals, except of beverage containers, plates, packages and wrappers containing foodstuffs, 8) Expanded polystyrene beverage containers and related caps and lids, 9) Expanded polystyrene beverage cups or glasses and relative caps and lids (Legislative Decree 196/21, Annex, Part B. Ref. Article 5)

(3) Single-use plastic products interested in consumption reduction goals:
1) beverage cups or glasses, including their caps and lids, 2) food containers, i.e. containers such as boxes with or without lids, used for food that jointly meet the following criteria: a) intended for immediate consumption, on the spot or take-away, b) usually eaten straight from the container, and c) ready to eat without further preparation, e.g. cooking, boiling or heating, including food containers such as fast food or for other meals ready for immediate consumption, with the exception of containers for drinks, dishes, packages and wrappers containing food (Legislative Decree 196/21, Annex, Part A. Ref. Article 4)

(4) Disposable plastic products subject to marking requirements: 1) sanitary napkins and tampons and tampon applicators, 2) wet wipes, i.e. pre-moistened wipes for personal hygiene and household use, 3) tobacco products with filters and filters marketed in combination with tobacco products, 4) cups or glasses for beverages (Legislative Decree 196/21, Annex, Part D)

(5) Single-use plastic products subject to extended producer responsibility: 1) food containers, i.e. containers such as boxes (with or without lids), used for food, which jointly meet the following criteria: a) are intended for immediate consumption, on-site or take-away, b) are typically consumed directly from the container, and c) are ready for consumption without further preparation (e.g. cooking, boiling or reheating), including those for fast food o for other ready-to-eat meals (except beverage containers, plates, packages and wrappers containing food), 2) flexible material packages and wrappers that contain food intended for immediate consumption directly from the package (or wrapper) without further preparation, 3) beverage containers with a capacity of up to three liters, i.e. containers used to hold liquids (e.g. beverage bottles and their caps and lids), as well as composite beverage packaging and their caps and lids. Excluding glass or metal beverage containers with plastic caps and lids, 4) beverage cups or glasses, including their caps and lids, 5) lightweight plastic bags referred to in Article 3.1-c of the dir. 94/62 / EC (Legislative Decree 196/21, Annex, Part E, Section I. Ref. Art. 8.1)

(6) Single-use plastic products subject to extended manufacturer responsibility: 1) wet wipes, i.e. pre-moistened wipes for personal hygiene and home use, 2) balloons, except those for industrial or other professional uses and applications that are not distributed to consumers (Legislative Decree 196/21, Annex, Part E, Section II. Ref. art. 8, paragraphs 2 and 3)

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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Expert in packaging and materials intended to come into contact with food substances and related legislative changes. He manages the information site foodcontactmaterials.info on European and extra-European regulations in the field of materials intended for contact with food.

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