TALLINN – The bill of amendments to the Waste Act, the Packaging Act and the Tobacco Act, which transposes and fulfills the obligations arising from the directive of the European Parliament and the Council on reducing the environmental impact of plastic products, passed first reading in the Estonian parliament.
The purpose of the bill is to reduce the amount of generated waste, encourage reuse, promote the transition to a circular economy and reduce littering, it appears from the explanatory memorandum. The provisions for amending the Tobacco Act also derive from the directive, which sets mandatory labeling requirements for tobacco products with filters containing plastic and filters intended for use with tobacco products.
The changes resulting from the directive concern restrictions on placing single-use plastic products on the market, labeling, consumption reduction, extended producer responsibility obligations, increasing consumer awareness, product design requirements and separate collection.
The bill stipulates measures that will be implemented to achieve a reduction in single-use plastic food packaging and drinking cups by 2026. For example, from Jan. 1, 2024, only reusable containers and cutlery will be allowed to be used for serving food and drink at public events. Data related to the consumption of single-use plastic food packaging and drinking cups will be collected in the packaging register. The first data entry period started on Jan. 1 this year.
The bill also stipulates which single-use plastic products and products that break down due to oxidants are prohibited from being placed on the market. Starting Jan. 1 of next year, it is forbidden to place on the Estonian market for the first time plastic products that degrade due to oxidants, single-use plastic cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, balloon sticks, food packaging made of polystyrene foam, beverage packaging made of polystyrene foam and drinking cups made of polystyrene foam.
The bill also specifies the requirements for separate collection of single-use plastic drinking bottles. By 2029, 90 percent of such beverage bottles must be collected by type. At the same time, the bill also provides for the regulation of design requirements for plastic drinking bottles with a capacity of up to 3 liters.