Disposable plastic, from today the ban. But Italy bypasses the EU standard: yes to biodegradable and compostable products. “So the disposable habit remains”

A step forward, yes, but certainly not the revolution that we were trying to design with EU directive Sup (Single Use Plastic) of 2019. There will be no farewell to disposable plastic with the entry into force on January 14 of the legislative decree 196, published in the Official Gazette of last November 30 and which transposes that directive. The prohibition on selling, among other things, cutlery, plates, straws and other plastic products, including oxo-degradable, i.e. plastics containing additives which through oxidation lead to the fragmentation of the plastic material into micro-fragments, excludes several product categories. Meanwhile, because, for those made of plastic intended to come into contact with food (including plates and cutlery), Italian law allows the European ban to be circumvented by resorting to plastic alternatives biodegradable and compostable, which do not solve the problem.

Delays, exemptions and risk of infringements – “Other than stop to disposable. In Italy the directive enters into force with guilty delay (the deadline was July 3, 2021, ed), incomprehensible exemptions for plastic-coated products and unjustified exemptions for disposable items in compostable plastic, as an alternative to products prohibited by European rules “, complaint Giuseppe Ungherese, in charge of the Pollution Campaign of Greenpeace Italy, according to which the decree it provides many salads for offenders (from 2,500 to 25 thousand euros) “is in clear contrast with some community dictates” and, therefore, “there is a real risk that the process for a infringement procedure“. Furthermore, in recent weeks, plastic products very similar to disposable ones are appearing on the market but ‘reusable‘for a limited number of times. According to the president of Legambiente, Stefano Ciafani, “A way to circumvent the ban and which leads to an increase in the use of plastic rather than a decrease”. The rest does the transposition decree of the directive which aimed to halve the waste derived from the ten most common single-use plastic products by more than 50 percent.

[display-posts orderby="comment_count"]

The prohibited products – The Italian text also prohibits the sale of bastoncini cotonati (cotton buds), stirrers for drinks, rods to attach to support the balloons, containers and cups for beverages in expanded polystyrene and relative caps and lids and some specific containers for food in expanded polystyrene. Namely “containers such as boxes with or without lids” used for foods that are intended for immediate consumption, on the spot or to take away and which, without further preparation, are generally consumed directly from the container, including food containers such as fast food or for other meals, always ready for immediate consumption. Measure introduced through an amendment, approved in the last legislature in the European Parliament and signed by the 5 Star Movement, recalls the MEP Sabrina Pignedoli which on the one hand goes back to that historical passage in Europe, on the other today underlines “the lack of implementing decrees”. One of the problems highlighted in these hours, but not the only one.

What is left out – The main one, in fact, lies precisely in the lowering of the level of ambition compared to the Sup. According to the Community standard, the alternatives in biodegradable and compostable plastic for products intended to come into contact with food should be prohibited, like the crockery made with plastics derived from oil and fossil gas. “The directive offered the opportunity to go beyond single use and the simple replacement of one material with another, promoting solutions based on reuse. A goal that was deliberately ignored from our country “explains Ungherese, according to whom” limiting the damage of plastics to the environment does not mean replacing materials, thus shifting the impacts on other environmental sectors and leaving the disposable model“. Especially since there is no clarity on when a plastic can be defined as biodegradable or compostable. Another deviation from the directive, which he had already discussed, is “the exclusion from the scope of the directive of products with coating made of plastic weighing less than 10 percent of the entire product. “On this type of articles – adds Hungarian – the community dictates do not however provide for any derogation”. So much so that now Greenpeace looks to the European Union (“We hope it will impose on the Italian government the changes“) And fears that the procedure for an infringement procedure will be initiated. That is why a group of NGOs consisting of Greenpeace, ClienthEarth, ECOS e Rethink Plastic Alliance he had already filed an official complaint with the European authorities in recent months.

The other news – To promote the use of alternative products to those prohibited, the decree provides concessions for companies that used it, in the form of tax credit, in the overall maximum limit of 3 million euros for each of the years 2022, 2023 and 2024. Furthermore, for exhibitors and producers, it will be possible to use existing stocks until exhaustion, provided that they can prove the actual placing on the market before 14 January 2022. Furthermore, within a year, the Ministry of Ecological Transition must indicate with a decree the minimum environmental criteria for the services of catering, with and without installing vending machines of food, drinks and water, as well as the minimum environmental criteria for the organization of events and film and television productions. Not enough news, according to Greenpeace, which points out that there is a precise and restricted list of disposable products subject to reduction in consumption or restrictions on placing on the market.

From bottles to packaging – For other products, such as bottles, there is no stop “but only design requirements, measures concerning the EPR (extended producer responsibility), separate collection target“. Specifically, starting from 2025, bottles manufactured with polyethylene terephthalate as the main component (those in PET) must contain at least 25% recycled plastic, a percentage that will rise to 30% starting from 2030. From 2024, then, the plug PET bottles with a capacity of up to 3 liters (for which the Sup is aiming at a separate collection of 77% in 2025, 90% by 2029), must be attached to the container. Also for the fishing gear there are only awareness-raising and extended producer responsibility measures. And then there is another knot. “To date, Italy has not adopted decisive measures on the fraction of plastic that we use the most, that is packaging”, Explains Ungherese, underlining that the sector“ is little affected by the directive. We hope for greater EU ambition in the revision of the packaging directive expected in the first quarter of 2022, pandemic permitting ”.

What is being done in other countries – With the implementation of the SUP, however, many European nations have adopted new laws, also in this direction. There France has taken measures to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic products and promote the uptake of reusable products and packaging, including glasses and cups for beverages, food containers for on-site consumption and take-away, as well as ban on the sale of fruit and vegetables packed in plastic in supermarkets. There Spain is going in the same direction as the Germany introduced a law that obliges merchants to make food and drinks available to consumers also in reusable containers, both for consumption on the spot and to take away. In Austria instead, a bill has recently been approved that obliges the sale of a portion of beverages in reusable containers.

[display-posts orderby="rand"]

Leave a Comment