10.05.21

The product bans and requirements of the Single Use Plastic directive entered into force-what changed?

The first requirements of the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive have entered into force. There are still open issues related to the implementation of the Directive, and guidelines are expected from the authorities. This information package will explain what is currently known about the product bans and requirements of the SUP Directive.

What is the SUP Directive and what products does it cover?
The Single‑Use Plastics Directive
, (EU) 2019/904, aims to reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment.

What measures does the Directive require?
Depending on the product group, consumption reduction measures, product bans, marking requirements, so called extended producer responsibility as well as awareness-raising measures.

What are the objectives of the Directive?
The aim is to reduce litter in the environment, especially in maritime areas, to promote circular economy and to harmonise product regulation in the EU internal market. The original purpose of the SUP Directive was to address the global problem of plastic litter in the seas by targeting certain plastic products most found on seashores, but it has expanded to cover single-use products in general.

Which products belong to the scope of the SUP Directive?

The following products belong to the scope of the Directive

  • certain single-use plastic products
  • all plastic products made from oxo-degradable plastic (suomenkielisessä versiossa oxo-hajoava on linkkinä Suomen uusiomuovin sivuille)
  • all fishing gear containing plastic

The product groups are listed in the annex of the Directive. Single product examples are listed in paragraph 12 in the preamble of the Directive. Additional instructions related to definitions can be found in the Commission guidelines

There are still open questions related to the definition of individual SUP products and these are dealt with in cooperation with the authorities.

How does the SUP Directive define plastic?

According to Article 3 of the SUP Directive: plastic means a material consisting of a polymer defined in the REACH Regulation, to which additives or other substances may have been added and which can function as a main structural component of final products, with the exception of natural polymers that have not been chemically modified.

Further information is provided on the webpage of The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (TUKES) Single-use plastics (SUP) – Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes)

Which products are banned under the SUP Directive?
The Directive prohibits placing on the market the following single-use plastic products, from 23 August 2021:
1. Cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, beverage stirrers, balloon sticks, food containers made of expanded polystyrene (used to contain food intended for immediate consumption and which is typically consumed from the receptacle and is ready to be consumed without any further preparation), beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene (including their caps and lids), and cups for beverages made of expanded polystyrene, including their covers and lids. Straws and cotton bud sticks that fall within the scope of the Directives on Medical Devices are not covered by the SUP Directive.
2. All products made from oxo-degradable plastic.

The national implementation of the SUP Directive is delayed in Finland. The product bans entered into force only on 23.8.2021. The product bans were implemented with a government decree on certain plastic products.

What do the marking requirements mean?
Certain plastic products must have a label saying that the product contains plastic. The marking consists of an image (turtle symbol) and an information text below. The text must be written in all official languages of the Member State, i.e. in Finnish and Swedish in Finland.

Each product group has its own marking with which products (cups for beverages) and packaging (tobacco products with filters, filters marketed for use in combination with tobacco products, wet wipes and sanitary towels and tampons) must be marked. Detailed instructions on marking requirements can be found in the Implementing Regulation.
The Implementing Regulation erroneously states that the marking for cups for beverages can be placed on the cups’ packaging, but it must be placed on the cup itself.

Where can I find the marking pictograms?
The pictograms can be found on the Commission’s website in the languages of all Member States.

Which products will be subject to the marking requirements?
The markings must be affixed to the following products and packaging:

  • All single-use cups for beverages that are made wholly or partly from plastic (the marking must be printed or engraved on the cup itself).
  • Packets and cartons for tobacco products with filters. Sales and grouped packaging for filters marketed for use in combination with tobacco products.
  • Wet wipes (pre-wetted personal care and domestic wipes) in sales and grouped packaging.
  • Sales and grouped packaging for tampons and sanitary towels (packaging with a surface area of more than 10 cm2)

The marking requirements concern products placed on the market in Finland from 23.8.2021 onwards. The national implementation of the SUP Directive is delayed in Finland and therefore the entry into force deviates from the timetable set in the SUP Directive. The marking requirements were implemented with a decree on certain plastic products.

Is it allowed to sell out the banned or unmarked products?

 Products that have been placed on the market in Finland before 23.8.2021 may be sold out/used up. No deadline has been set for selling the products in stock.

Placing on the market means the first making available of a product on the Finnish market. Making available on the market means the supply of a product for distribution, consumption or use on the Finnish market in the course of a commercial activity.

For example commercial operators in Finland may sell from their warehouse or shop single-use plastic products that have been purchased before 23.8.2021 (ownership of product has been transferred), the sales of which is either banned by the Directive or they lack the turtle sticker obligatory from 23.8.2021 onwards. There is no deadline for sales.

Additional information can be found on the webpage of the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes)

Authorities in Finland will carry out the first SUP Directive related surveillance project on product bans and marking requirements in autumn 2022.

What will the costs of the SUP Directive be?
The costs will vary by product group. In addition to direct product bans and reduction in sales, costs will incur from product marking requirements, the extended producer responsibility, which refers to the requirement to also bear the costs of littering in certain public areas, as well as product requirements, such as the requirement for the plastic cap to remain attached to the beverage packaging.

Will cross-border online sales be covered by the requirements of the SUP Directive?
Yes. The SUP requirements (marking, product requirements, etc.) will also apply to products that are delivered to Finland through cross-border online sales. With the amendments to the Waste Act, online shops operating outside Finland will bear producer responsibility for packaging and, consequently, the extended producer responsibility (cleaning up litter in public areas) concerns them. Foreign distance sellers can fulfil their producer responsibility obligations in Finland by joining a producer organisation or by appointing an authorised representative to fulfil the obligations.

What is meant by national consumption reduction?
The Directive obliges Member States to take the necessary measures to achieve “an ambitious and sustained” reduction in the consumption of single-use plastic products (Part A of the Annex to the Directive). Those measures must achieve a measurable quantitative reduction in consumption by 2026 compared to 2022.

What is meant by “necessary measures” to reduce consumption?
The measures may include national consumption reduction targets, offering re-usable alternatives to single-use plastic products, economic instruments (e.g. not offering single-use plastic products to consumers free of charge) and agreements for this purpose. The measures may vary depending on the environmental impact of the products in question during their life cycle, also when they end up in the environment as litter. All measures must be proportionate and non-discriminatory. 

Each Member State decides on its measures. Finland is considering the implementation of national consumption reduction primarily through a voluntary Green Deal agreement

What problems are related to the implementation of the SUP Directive?
The main problems in the Directive are related to the poor and hasty preparation. This is reflected in unclear definitions and, above all, the delayed guidelines from the Commission. The Directive was adopted in summer 2019, but the Commission guidelines to define SUP products were only published in June 2021. This timeframe of course poses great challenges to the operators.

The Directive also fails to provide realistic alternatives to the products that it targets. Not everything can be replaced with reusable packaging. It is unclear which products can be used in the future to replace products containing different proportions of plastic, such as take-away food packaging.

What next?

The SUP product bans and marking requirements are not the only changes affecting businesses. The preparation of the national implementation of other SUP Directive’s requirements is under way in Finland during the autumn 2021. These are for example the consumption reduction of SUP-beverage cups and food containers, product requirements of SUP beverage packages, extended producer responsibility, separate collection of SUP beverage bottles and consumer awareness raising activities.

The SUP Directive also adds to the reporting obligations of the producers when information on the volumes of SUP products placed on the markets is needed for monitoring purposes.

Which authority controls the implementation of the SUP Directive obligations in Finland?

Product bans and product markings: The Finnish Chemicals and Safety Agency TUKES

Senior Officer, Tiia Salamäki, tiia.salamaki@tukes.fi tel. +358 29 5052 632

Senior Officer, Kati Suomalainen, kati.suomalainen@tukes.fi  tel.+358 29 5052 124

Producer responsibility: Pirkanmaa ELY-centre (Pirkanmaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment)
Senior Officer Tuomo Aunola, tuomo.aunola@ely-keskus.fi  tel. +358 29 5036 319

The Finnish Chemicals Safety Agency Tukes is planned to monitor the requirements on caps to remain attached to the beverage container.

The Pirkanmaa ELY centre is planned to monitor other requirements of the Direcitve.

 

Which authority advises on matters related to the SUP Directive?

The Finnish Chemicals and Safety Agency TUKES is the controlling authority regarding product bans and product markings.

Senior Officer, Tiia Salamäki, tiia.salamaki@tukes.fi tel. +358 29 5052 632

Senior Officer, Kati Suomalainen, kati.suomalainen@tukes.fi  tel.+358 29 5052 124
The Pirkanmaa ELY-centre is the controlling authority for producer responsibilities defined in the SUP Directive.

Senior Officer Tuomo Aunola, tuomo.aunola@ely-keskus.fi  tel. +358 29 5036 319

The Ministry of the Environment prepares the implementation of the SUP Directive in Finland.

Senior Ministerial Adviser, Katariina Haavanlammi, katariina.haavanlammi@ym.fi  tel. +358 295 250 072

Programme Manager, Merja Saarnilehto, merja.saarnilehto@ym.fi  tel. +358 295 250 259

 

Where can I find more information on the SUP Directive?

The article is based on information available in September 2021. There are still open questions related to the implementation of the SUP Directive. RINKI cooperates closely with the authorities on these questions. We update this article.

Updates:

14.9.2021: Article has been updated

23.8.2021 Product bans and marking requitements entered into force in Finland

2.7.2021: SUP-direktiivin toimeenpano Suomessa viivästyy. Kesäkuun lopussa saadun tiedon mukaan valtioneuvoston asetus tulisi voimaan elokuun puolivälissä 2021 eikä 3.7.2021.