On 21 May, the European Council has finally approved the Directive on “the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment”.

While introducing a series of more stringent and severe rules compared to the European legislation currently in force on the matter, it establishes more ambitious goals in order to find a solution to the increasing production of plastic waste and to prevent its dispersion in the environment, especially in the marine environment.

In particular, the Directive refers to single-use plastic products, namely those made, entirely or partially, of plastic material aimed at being used once or for a brief period of time, before they are discarded.

In order to achieve the targeted purposes, the Directive invites the State to intervene on a various number of fronts.

More in detail, the Directive provides:

  • The obligation for Member States to adopt measures in order to reduce the consumption and placing on the market of single-use plastic products, that will eventually lead, by 2021, to the ban of selling cutlery, plates, straws, cotton sticks, beverage stirrers, sticks to be attached to and to support balloons, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene;
  • New targets for separate collection of waste to be recycled (Member States should ensure the recycle of 90% of plastic bottles by 2029, which should contain at least 25% or recycled material by 2025 and 30% by 2030);
  • The marketing of single-use plastic products in order to inform the consumers on the correct modalities for waste management and the forms of waste disposal to avoid, as well as the presence of plastic in the product and accordingly the negative consequences on environment caused by dispersion or other improper forms of disposal of the plastic waste;
  • Adoption of measures to raise consumer awareness on the use and effects of plastics in order to encourage responsible behaviours to reduce the dispersion of waste deriving from products made out of plastic, also through the disclosure on the availability of alternative and reusable products;
  • In line with the polluter-pays principle, the introduction of an extended producer responsibility scheme to cover the necessary costs of waste management and clean-up of litter, as well as the costs for awareness-raising measures;
  • The obligation for Member States to communicate annually to the European Commission the effective implementation of the Directive.

The formal adoption of the Directive from the European Council concludes the final stage of a law making process started in May 2018. Now it has to be published on the Official Journal of the European Union.

In accordance with the text, the Directive will entry into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and two years after the date of entry into force of the Directive, Member States shall transpose the Directive into their national legislation.


The text of the Directive, as approved by the European Council, is available at this link: