After a relatively short negotiation period, the new rules on single-use plastics to tackle marine litter were adopted and published in June 2019, in brief commonly known as the “single-use plastic ban”. Items that fall under this ban include single-use products made of plastic to which alternatives exist on the market, such as cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, sticks for balloons, as well as cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.
For the purpose of the Directive and its measures, a plastic is defined as a material consisting of a polymer to which additives or other substances may have been added, and which can function as a main structural component of final products, with the exception of natural polymers that have not been chemically modified.
This means that all previously named items made of plastics defined as such fall under the ban except those made from ‘natural polymers that have not been chemically modified’, in the sense of the REACH definition of a not chemically modified substance. However, within the Directive, it is not specified which polymers fall into the group of “natural polymers”. Also, the term “natural polymers” as such is not further defined within the proposal of the Directive.
Based on scientific facts and the clear guidance given by REACH and ECHA, 18 well-known scientists from all over the world request the European Commission to exempt several “natural polymers” from the measures outlined in Directive 2019/904.