Just like all member states of the European Union, the Netherlands is also turning the directive into national legislation. Read how the Netherlands is planning to do this.
Various measures will be taken to achieve the desired reduction in plastic. The measures given below come from an infographic (in Dutch) by the Dutch Government. We will explain what we think of each measure.
From 3 July 2021, certain products – with the exception of the existing stocks – may no longer be sold. These include plastic plates, plastic cutlery, plastic stirrers, expanded polystyrene (EPS) food and drink packaging and straws.
A ban is the most powerful weapon in the fight against plastic pollution. What is not manufactured can never enter the environment. PSF also argues for a wider ban on all plastic products that often end up in the plastic soup.
As part of the EU, the Netherlands should work to expand the list of banned products. These could include:
· fireworks containing plastic
· plastic confetti and snow
· cigarette filters containing plastic
· dolly rope
· resealable bags/pouches
· drinking cups with a plastic lining
· products made of polystyrene
· plastic advertising material that is distributed free
· wet wipes containing plastic
· primary plastic packaging of separately packaged items (e.g. sweets and toothpicks)
· plastic packaging of fruit that is naturally ‘packaged’ (e.g. bananas)
· plastic water balloons
· plastic teabags
· plastic lolly sticks
· plastic six-pack rings
· plastic foil on cigar and cigarette packets
· chewing gum containing plastic
On its website, the GroenLinks political party argues for a ban on a large part of the products on this list on the grounds that they are ‘nonsense plastics’. These are plastic products that are redundant or could easily be replaced by other materials.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
The principle of the polluter pays is relevant. This measure means that manufacturers pay part of the costs of the collection of waste and the cleaning up of litter. They also cover part of the costs of awareness raising among consumers, such as information dissemination and campaigns.
There will be EPRs for wet wipes; balloons for consumers; tobacco products with filters and separate filters; food packaging, including fast food or meals that can be consumed directly; bags and wrappers for foodstuffs; drink packets and beverage composite carton of up to 3 litres and drinking cups including lids; and for thin carrier bags.
PSF believes that the principle of the EPR (the polluter pays) must be worked out and that manufacturers should always be held responsible for the product that they bring to market, including when that product becomes waste. The costs of clearing and processing of waste and for any damage to the environment should not be diverted to society and to later generations. When the actual costs of a product are laid entirely at the door of the manufacturer, sustainable alternatives will hopefully be developed sooner.
The arguments that the EPRs have already been introduced through the existing levy that manufacturers pay to the Afvalfonds Verpakkingen (packaging waste fund) is not relevant. This levy does not include the costs for cleaning up litter, any existing environmental damage and things like any required future soil decontamination.
PSF believes that, on the grounds of their composite packaging (metal and plastic), cans should be explicitly added to the EPR requirements. Pouches already fall under the EPR, but they should be banned.
Mandatory marking requirements on packaging show that a product contains plastic, that it should be disposed of in the rubbish bin at home and that litter impacts the environment negatively.
It is a step forward that information about the hazards of plastic will be included on labels mandatorily. However, this does not guarantee that fewer of these products will be purchased let alone that they do not end up in the environment. PSF believes that a baseline study should be done to see if the logos have any effect. Additional measures must be taken if the effects are minimal. These could include a higher waste tax, collection targets or the withdrawal of certain products from the market.
The consumption of ‘on-the-go’ plastic drinking cups and food packaging must be significantly reduced. Multi-use alternatives could be offered or the packaging not be given free of charge. The member states need to ensure that this happens from 2021 onwards.
The Directive states that the member states need to radically reduce their consumption by 2026 compared to 2022. The Netherlands will work out how to do this in a ministerial ruling that is yet to be announced. In general, the thinking is to put a price on the products that are now free, making reuse obligatory, and perhaps banning specific products in certain places.
A significant reduction will not be attained through information dissemination and information on products. Reuse must be made a much more attractive option, and this needs to be done as quickly as possible. Further, the measures must not be confined to on-the-go products.
PSF would like to see specific reduction targets set and views this as a good opportunity to switch to systems in which on-the-go packaging, including drinking cups, are subject to a deposit system and are thus reused.
The use of all other products in general must also be reduced. To this end, reduction targets for these must also be defined. The desired reduction can be gained by making disposable products more expensive and alternatives more attractive. The best way would be to make products reusable. Other measures must be introduced should the targets not be reached.
Plastic bottles must be made of recycled material, at least in part.
From 2024, bottle tops and lids must be attached to plastic bottles and drink packets. They will thus automatically be recovered for recycling.
PSF is a strong supporter of a statutory high percentage of recyclate in bottles. Collecting used plastic for recycling helps in the battle against litter. One major disadvantage is that the draft changes are not related to additives used, while those additives negatively affect the quality of recyclate. PSF believes that plastic products must be subject to many more standards to optimise recycling. A product that in part consists of recyclate should not be of lesser quality than the original product. We still have a long way to go.
PSF believes that, in parallel, a tax should be introduced on new virgin plastic. Recyclate cannot compete with new plastic that is cheaper and of higher quality. A levy would ensure that recyclate would be more attractive and consequently less new plastic would be in circulation.
PSF deplores the fact that bottle tops only need to be attached to bottles in 2024. We encourage producers of soft drinks, water and juices to show that this can be introduced sooner.
Above all, any modifications to products must be geared to reuse. A strong plastic soft drink bottle can be reused about forty times before needing to be recycled.
To ensure that at least 77% of all plastic bottles up to 3 litres must be collected in 2025 (and at least 90% by 2029) for recycling, a deposit system for all bottles up to 3 litres will be introduced at the end of 2021. From 2023, the target for the collection of fishing gear will be 23%, after which it will be increased by 3% every year.
A high percentage of used bottle collection will only happen if there is an effective deposit system. Supermarkets must be required by law to collect bottles. The collection targets must be for all drink packets regardless of the type of drink and hence also apply to milk, juice and wine. Germany has already taken the step.
Resealable bags, that are often found in the environment, are not recyclable or hardly recyclable and should be banned.
Manufacturers of fishing gear containing plastic should be required to take back a certain percentage of nets used by fishers. The percentage cited (23% in 2023) covers the nets that are no longer used and are brought to shore. It does not cover the plastic pollution that is caused during fishing by the wear and tear of the dolly rope that hangs beneath the nets. The Dutch draft decree of the SUP-Directive does not include the effects of wear and tear of the dolly rope. This means that large quantities of dolly rope remain in the sea and, as long as bottom trawling continues to use this material, will continue to contribute strongly to the plastic soup. PSF believes that the usage of plastic dolly rope should be banned and replaced by alternatives. Dolly rope is one of the most common plastic waste items on the Dutch coast.
Consumers are informed about the effects of plastic on the environment. This regards information on issues such as reusable alternatives and the proper disposal of waste.
Awareness raising and education are very important, but not solutions in themselves. They do not guarantee that less plastic will end up in the environment. Fifty years of educational programmes have not led to less litter.
PSF believes that companies should not buy off their responsibility by funding awareness campaigns. Companies should always be held responsible for the plastic products that they put on the market.