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 from 2022…

Part of EU DirectiveEnglandWalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
Ban single-use plastic cutlery, plates, straws & stirrers (including CPLA cutlery & PLA straws)Proposed in consultation Included in draft billYes, from 12 Aug 2022Yes from 2022
Ban expanded polystyrene food containers & cupsProposed in consultation Included in draft bill Yes, from 1 June 2022 Yes from 2022
Ban all oxo-degradable plasticsNoIncluded in draft billNoYes 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. Here is an overview of Wales’ plans and a link to the draft bill – skip to the annex on page 11 to see the list of banned items.

SCOTLAND is implementing most of the same bans as the EU Single Use Plastics Directive, from 12th Aug 2022. But read on for some important details…

  • Read the Scottish guidance here.
  • Polystyrene foam cups are containers are banned. Bagasse takeaway boxes and tableware are a great alternative for hot food to go, and we have a wide range of hot cups.
  • No more plastic stirrers – but we have some excellent quality wooden stirrers made from sustainably-sourced birch wood.
  • Instead of plastic cutlery, you can choose our wooden cutlery. We are also currently developing some great cutlery made from paper.

NORTHERN IRELAND must bring parts of the Directive into its own laws by 1st January 2022, as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

  • Northern Ireland clients must use cups showing the new EU turtle graphic. Learn about Vegware’s EU-compliant cup ranges and custom print options at
  • A consultation was held in December 2021, requesting views of 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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