Belgium imposes phased ban on single-use plastics

Belgium imposes phased ban on single-use plastics
© Belga

A royal decree approved on Friday by the Council of Ministers gradually bans single-use plastics from the Belgian market.

The decree, announced by Environment Minister Zakia Khattabi, implements two European directives issued in 2015 and 2019 that had not been implemented in Belgium.

One bans the sale of plastic bags with handles, except for extremely light plastic bags, reusable ones compliant with EU standard EN 13429 – which defines the possible ways to reuse packaging – and those issued for security reasons in airports.

Businesses have been given a one-year grace period from the date of promulgation of the royal decree, mainly to get rid of their stocks. The same time frame has been given for a ban on the sale of disposable plastic cups. This ban does not cover coated cardboard cups.

A ban on marketing other single-use plastics takes immediate effect 10 days after the publication of the decree, either in late 2021 or early 2022. These plastics include cotton buds, cutlery, plates, mixing sticks, balloon holders, polystyrene food containers used to contain foods to be consumed on-site or to be taken away, and polystyrene bottles.

Finally, certain single-use plastics will need to be marked with information for the customer.

These include sanitary towels, tampons, tampon applicators, wipes, dishrags, tobacco products with filters and filters sold for use with tobacco products and cups. All these should bear clear messages informing potential users of the presence of plastics in the product and its harmful effect on the environment.

“The banning of single-use plastics is an important step in resolving the problem of plastic build-ups in the environment and in our oceans,” the minister said.

"In addition to preventing and reducing the incidence of certain single-use products, it is also essential to promote reusable goods and the transition to a circular economy with innovative, sustainable business models, goods and materials.”

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