Our expert, Katarzyna Barańska, PhD, talks to Dziennik Gazeta Prawna on the draft Plastics Act. The new regulations are to implement the SUP (Single-Use Plastics) Directive into Polish law.
Poland has less than three months to implement the basic provisions of the 2019 Plastics Directive, the primary objective of which is to urgently reduce the amount of plastic waste generated in the EU. It is good that a draft national act in this area has finally appeared. It is a pity that the adoption of the regulations has been delayed for so long, by almost two years.
This may raise concerns about meeting the transposition deadline, since the draft act presented just before Christmas still needs to be consulted with experts and social partners. With no specific provisions presented to the market since 2019, it is expected that the discussion of the proposed provisions planned for the next three weeks will be stormy.
The fact remains that single-use plastic products provided for in the regulations are to be phased out of the market by July 3, 2021. Businesses and the retail sector must immediately restrict the placing on the market of such products.
The draft act also provides for certain packaging types (containers for meals to be eaten on site or taken away, containers that allow direct consumption, containers for fast food meals and beverage cups) to be covered by an additional fee of up to PLN 1 per packing added to the price of the product (meal). Facilities serving meals in such packages, in addition to the quarterly obligation to pay the collected fee to the account of the provincial governor, must also report the quantity of plastic packaging purchased and distributed, keeping such records for five years, and offer both plastic and environmentally friendly packaging.
These regulatory changes are coming at a very difficult time for the food service industry, which is now struggling to survive the pandemic by only offering take-away meals. Additional burdens for employees and customers (since it is us who will ultimately pay the increased packaging costs and employers will pay for their employees’ time) can only make this situation worse.
It is therefore surprising that the draft act lacks financial support mechanisms such as tax and environmental incentives for the food service industry in this tough new environment, all the more in view of the new obligations in place. The directive was passed by the European Parliament in 2019 when no one had heard of a pandemic. However, this is now one of the main problems not only in Poland but also in world markets, and new national regulations must take this into account.