Avoiding single-use plastics

Single-use plastic products (SUPs) are used once, or for a short period of time, before being thrown away.

The 10 most commonly found single-use plastic items represent 70% of all marine litter in the EU.

The EU aims to reduce the volume and impact of specific plastic products on the environment through Directive (EU) 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. This is commonly referred to as the Single Use Plastics Directive.

The Directive commits member states to introduce a range of measures to deal with the most common single use plastic items and was transposed in Ireland through the European Union (Single Use Plastics) Regulations 2021, effective from 3 rd July 2021. Ireland complies with the Directive by ensuring the following SUP items are banned from being placed on the Irish market, effective from 3 July 2021:

  • Cotton Bud Sticks
  • Cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks)
  • Plates
  • Stirrers
  • Balloon sticks
  • Straws
  • Expanded polystyrene single use cups, food and beverage
  • All oxo-degradable plastic products

Beverage containers (bottles, cartons, pouches) up to 3 litres in size will be banned from the Irish market from 3 July 2024, unless its cap is attached to the main part of the container. Beverage producers will also be prohibited from placing any SUP beverage bottle made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) up to 3 litres in size on the Irish market from January 2025 unless it contains a minimum of 25% recycled plastic. From January 2030 all SUP beverage bottles up to 3 litres in size must contain a minimum of 30% recycled plastic.

Since 5 January 2023, producers of packaging will be required to cover the costs of litter clean up, in addition to their existing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) obligations associated with the following SUP items:

  • food containers
  • packets
  • wrappers
  • beverage containers
  • cups
  • light weight carrier bags

New EPR schemes will also be required for producers of tobacco filter products (from 5 January 2023) and for balloons, wet wipes and fishing gear (from 31 December 2024). These producers will also be required to cover litter clean-up costs arising from their products.

The EU Commission will be producing guidance on how litter costs are to be calculated and we will be publishing that when it is available.

In order to maximise their recyclability, we will achieve a separate collection rate of 90% for plastic bottles. A Deposit and Return Scheme (DRS) was introduced in February 2024 to achieve this.

Since July 2021, producers of wet wipes, tobacco filter products containing plastic, sanitary items and beverage cups must ensure that the marking requirements of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2151 are contained on their packaging or products, as appropriate, to inform consumers of the presence of plastic and the impact of inappropriate disposal. In accordance with this Regulation, the marking must contain both official languages of Ireland. This regulation is also available as Gaeilge.

General guidance, on the scope of the products included within this Directive, has been published by the EU Commission.