UK EU Single Use Plastics Directive compostable bio-based disposables

The UK & the EU Single Use Plastics Directive

The EU Single Use Plastics Directive is making big changes to Europe’s foodservice packaging habits. Its big aim is to reduce marine litter. It includes banning expanded polystyrene, oxo-degradable plastics and banning some plastic items.

EU member states are taking a variety of approaches to put the Directive into their national laws.

What about the UK? It’s a hot topic, and we’ve had lots of client questions. Here’s our useful guide…

UK – four nations, big variations

The UK is not required to bring this Directive into UK law. But the four nations are taking different approaches, with Northern Ireland required to comply by 2022…

Part of EU DirectiveEnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
Ban single-use plastic cutlery, plates, straws & stirrers (including CPLA cutlery & PLA straws)Proposed in consultation Proposed in consultationYes, from 1 June 2022Yes from 2022
Ban expanded polystyrene food containers & cupsProposed in consultation Proposed in consultation Yes, from 1 June 2022 Yes from 2022
Ban all oxo-degradable plasticsNoProposed in consultationNoYes from 2022
Turtle graphic on beverage cups containing plasticNoNoNoYes from 2022

A closer look…

ENGLAND is considering how to limit some of the most-littered plastic items, for some possible changes in April 2023.


WALES is likely to opt in to many parts of the Directive. The Welsh Government held a consultation in 2020 proposing to ban nine different single-use plastic items. It will publish its conclusions in 2021 – look out for them here.


SCOTLAND is implementing most of the same bans as the EU Single Use Plastics Directive, from 1st June 2022.


NORTHERN IRELAND must bring parts of the Directive into its own laws by 1st January 2022, as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol. This aims to ease the flow of goods across the border with the Republic of Ireland. A consultation is open until 17 December, so if you are in Northern Ireland you can respond to policy proposals for the reduction of the usage of Single-use Plastic beverage cups and food containers.

You can find links to UK and devolved policies in this House of Commons briefing.


Vegware’s EU-compliant range

Ignore the myth that PLA is being banned – it isn’t. Some member states won’t allow CPLA cutlery or PLA straws from July 2021 – but we have excellent wooden cutlery and paper straws. The rest of our range is fully EU-compliant, ready to help you beat the bans on expanded polystyrene and oxo-degradable plastics.

Got any questions? Contact us today!

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