What is the Single-Use-Plastic Directive (SUP Directive) and what are the obligations arising from it?

  • Last update: 21.02.2024
  • Published: 12.02.2024
  • Read in: 5 min

In the face of growing environmental awareness and pollution, the European Union authorities enacted the so-called SUP Directive in 2019, resulting in new obligations for entrepreneurs from member states aimed at reducing the generation of plastic waste and improving control over plastic packaging introduced to the market.

This is also the case for Poland, where the first new regulations resulting from the SUP Directive appeared last year, with more being gradually implemented. But what exactly are the changes? This is what we focus on in the article below, which we warmly encourage you to read!

What is the SUP Directive (Single-Use-Plastic) and what are the obligations arising from it?

What is the Single-Use-Plastic Directive?

The plastic directive, single-use plastic directive, or SUP directive refers to a legal act of the European Union – Directive (EU) 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 – which concerns the reduction of single-use plastic usage. It was enacted in Europe in 2019, however, the implementation of the SUP directive, or rather the regulations contained therein, is handled by national authorities.

The goal of the SUP Directive - control and reduction of single-use products

The purpose of implementing regulations resulting from the single-use plastic directive is to reduce the use of single-use plastic products, which will contribute, among other things, to reducing marine waste, pollution in the marine environment, and the choice of reusable products.

Implementing the SUP Directive

The implementation of solutions resulting from the plastic directive began with the enactment of the law of 14 April 2023 amending the law on the obligations of entrepreneurs in terms of waste management and product fees, as well as some other laws. However, it should be emphasized that not all provisions of the law came into force at the same time. The implementation of the SUP Directive regulations in Poland is happening gradually.

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Implementation of the SUP Directive – 3 July 2021

From 3 July 2021, manufacturers of single-use products are required to mark plastic packaging with a “dead turtle” symbol.

Implementation of the SUP Directive – 24 May 2023

Firstly, on 24 May 2023, a mandate to keep a record of single-use packaging, registration in the BDO (Waste Database), as well as a ban on introducing single-use plastic articles to the market, including:

  • Plastic cutlery;
  • Plastic plates;
  • Plastic cups and stirrers made of plastics;
  • Articles made of expanded polystyrene (otherwise styrofoam packaging): food containers or drinks and bottle caps;
  • Balloon sticks;
  • Cotton buds except those intended for medical purposes.

It is worth noting that the above ban on introducing single-use products to the market applies to the first introduction of a given product to the Polish market by a manufacturer or importer. In case of having such products in their offer, wholesale, retail, and gastronomic units had and have the possibility to sell or issue them until the stocks of these products are exhausted.

Record of single-use packaging

As we mentioned above, the mandatory entry or its update in the BDO register had to occur by 24 August 2023. Meanwhile, the report from the record for the period from 24 May 2023 to 31 December 2023 must occur by 15 March 2024 at the latest.

The SUP Directive and exceptions

It is worth emphasizing that there are also exceptions that the regulations resulting from the single-use plastic directive do not cover. These include single-use products for which there are no alternatives or have unique applications, such as medical products.

Implementation of the SUP Directive – 1 January 2024

As of 1 January this year, another obligation came into effect, requiring retail, wholesale, gastronomic, and vending units to collect fees from consumers for the purchase of single-use products used for packaging food or drinks, as well as fees for food and drinks packaged in single-use packaging. The fee for purchasing the aforementioned single-use articles currently amounts to 20-25 groszy.

Furthermore, from 1 January 2024, entrepreneurs who collect the consumer fee are required to submit BDO reports on the number of acquired and introduced to the market single-use plastic packaging, for which they will also have to pay the mentioned fees to the voivodeship marshal. However, this settlement will only take place at the report submitted for the year 2024, which will occur in 2025.

Implementation of the SUP Directive – 1 July 2024

It is worth noting that further obligations arising from the single-use plastic directive are already on the horizon. These will concern providing end customers with products in alternative packaging, e.g., reusable packaging or packaging not made from single-use materials, such as paper, wood, or pulp.

Moreover, from 1 July, there will be an obligation to attach the cap to the beverage, which is already visible in the case of many brands’ products.

Effects of implementing the SUP Directive

Although not all obligations resulting from the implementation of the SUP Directive have come into effect yet, the effects of this regulation can already be observed. The first, most likely noticeable, is the increase in product prices, from which additional fees are charged, or the higher costs of gastronomic orders. Not to mention the additional obligations that concern entrepreneurs.

On the other hand, it is also worth mentioning other actions, among which is the use of reusable product packaging or the acceptance of glass without the need for a purchase receipt by some store chains.

What is the SUP Directive? - Summary

The SUP (Single-Use-Plastic) Directive is a regulation of the European Union, specifically Directive (EU) 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019. It results in new obligations and rules concerning, among others, keeping records of single-use packaging introduced to the market, banning the introduction of products made of plastics (e.g., plastic cutlery and other goods contributing to the increase in plastic waste).

Moreover, the new rules oblige entrepreneurs to annually report the conducted record, collect fees for products in single-use packaging, and mark certain products specified in the regulations with a “dead turtle” icon.

It is worth noting, however, that new regulations resulting from the plastic directive are a phenomenon increasingly noticeable in the European Union countries. Similar actions have been described in connection with packaging registration in Spain, and overall, they contribute to improving the recycling of packaging waste.

Remember, however, that packaging issues are not the only obligation for entrepreneurs, who must also take care of, among others, VAT issues or e-commerce accounting. If you need help with registrations, settlements, or VAT and VAT OSS declarations in EU countries or the UK, schedule a consultation, and our specialists will take care of your case!

Tomasz Połeć Tomasz is a co-founder of Taxology and a tax advisor (license No. 12104), with 15+ years of experience in Polish and international consulting firms. Leveraging his expertise from numerous tax reviews and audits, he offers proficient tax advisory services to e-commerce companies. He specializes in advising on VAT and CIT settlements in e-commerce and logistics.