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Netherlands to impose levies on takeaway plastic packaging next month

June 16, 2023

Businesses are no longer allowed to offer free disposable cups and trays containing plastic in the Netherlands, from July 1. The new rules will place a premium on takeaway packaging. Packaging Insights takes a closer look at the national changes, which aim to promote reuse and reduce plastics.

The new measures stem from the 2021 European Single Use Plastics (SUP) directive and aim to reduce the impact of single-use plastic on the environment and to reuse and recycle more plastic. The goal is to reduce the use of disposable cups and containers containing plastic in the Netherlands by 40% by 2026.

Catering businesses, restaurants, food stalls at festivals and other points of F&B sale including ready-to-consume food containers sold in supermarkets must offer reusable alternatives to single-use items.

The rules also apply to disposable cups and food packaging made from bioplastics including biodegradable plastic or plastic made from renewable raw materials.

While businesses can decide the amount customers would have to pay on takeaway plastic packaging, the government guidelines suggest €0.25 (US$0.27) for cups €0.50 (US$0.55) for a meal (this can include several pieces of packaging) and €0.05 (US$0.05) for pre-packaged vegetables, fruit, nuts and portion packs.

Pay or reuse
Businesses will be required to clearly state the additional charge on the receipts or highlight it on displays in stores. Furthermore, they will need to provide customers an alternative to plastic packaging, such as reusable packaging or swap to plastic-free disposable packaging.

The government has exempted products from the rules that can be recycled into cups or food packaging, but it currently only applies to packaging made from PET.

“To use this exception, you must register with the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport, ILT),” explains, the Dutch Point of Single Contact website that is part of the EU’s ambition to improve the internal market via a Single Digital Gateway.

“You also have to collect the materials yourself and submit them for high-quality recycling. The minimum percentage that you must collect increases annually (between 75%-90%).”

Vivianne Heijnen, state secretary of Infrastructure and Water Management explains that the Netherlands alone throws away 19 million plastic cups and food packaging daily that have only been used once. “Unnecessary waste that often ends up on the street and in the bushes. To reduce the mountain of waste and reduce litter, the government is implementing measures to make reuse the norm.”

“We want to leave the world tidy for our children and grandchildren. These new rules will help with that, because it will save an enormous amount of waste and litter. We use way too much disposable packaging. And that can really be different.”

“That is why we are committed to reuse. Everyone can contribute by bringing their own cup or container or by choosing a cup or container with a deposit on it and returning it. Let’s work together to ensure that reuse becomes the standard,” Heijnen says.

Takeaway packaging innovations
Notpla recently secured a listing with wholesale giant Bidfood Catering Supplies to make its seaweed-based takeaway food boxes available to over 45,000 catering and foodservice customers across the UK.

Meanwhile, the municipality of Aarhus, Denmark, announced a collaboration with circularity technology company Tomra to establish a deposit return system for takeaway packaging in the city center.

The trial focuses on takeaway cups with a deposit. The plan is to expand the system to cover all types of takeaway packaging, ensuring a holistic, convenient and sustainable system.

Earlier this year, Stora Enso launched shopping and takeaway bags made from 100% fresh fibers. The CarrEco Brown portfolio boasts high strength and tear resistance properties and is safe for direct food contact.

The paper bag materials are made from a new unbleached and uncoated board that is fully recyclable. Through its three-layer structure, CarrEco Brown offers “exceptional” strength properties suitable for strong shopping bags.

Furthermore, Jokey Group joined a partnership with the Spanish start-up Bumerang to advance the development of reusable packaging. The two companies together want to actively contribute to promoting the circular economy.

But, a study commissioned by McDonald’s warned that a shift to reusable packaging, as proposed in the EU’s upcoming revisions to the packaging and packaging waste directive (PPWD), could have adverse effects on the economy, food safety and the environment if implemented in takeaway consumption formats for the informal eating out sector.

The study projected that 2030 mandatory reuse targets set by PPWR will increase plastic packaging waste by “up to 300%” for dine-in consumption and “up to 1500%” for takeaway.

By Radhika Sikaria


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