September 2022 – The Czech Republic has adopted legislation on reducing the environmental impact of selected plastic products (along with another act amending existing regulations). The respective acts introduce several types of measures – in particular a complete ban on certain single-use plastic items and restrictions on the production of other plastic products; or granting financial support to municipalities. The acts implement the EU’s Directive on single-use plastics – albeit more than one year late.
The new laws enter into force on 1 October 2022; but the various obligations become effective as of 1 January 2023, or 1 January 2024, or 1 July 2024, respectively – or, in some cases, even later, such as in 2030.
Please see below the selected key terms in the legislation as of the date of this update.
Ban on certain single-use plastic items
The Act bans placing on the market or into circulation (meaning each paid or free-of-charge delivery of such plastic items on the territory of the Czech Republic for distribution, consumption, or use after being placed on the market) certain single-use plastic items, including plastic cotton-tipped earbud sticks (with certain exceptions), cutlery, plates, straws (with certain exceptions), beverage stirrers, food containers made of expanded polystyrene (for immediate single-use food consumption without any further preparation), beverage containers and drinking cups made of expanded polystyrene, and products made from oxo-degradable plastics.
Despite previous legislative proposals, the ban on certain single-use plastic products will now be effective from 1 October 2022. No transitional period is offered for the sale and use of remaining stock inventories. This means, for example, that restaurants will not be permitted to use-up existing stocks of expanded polystyrene containers after 1 October 2022 for take-away food packaging.
Special requirements for plastic bottles
Under the new laws, single-use plastic beverage bottles of up to three litres (made mainly of polyethylene terephthalate) placed on the market/into circulation will have to be made of 25% of recycled plastic as of 2025, and of 30% recycled plastic from 2030. From 1July 2024, single-use plastic beverage containers placed on the market with a volume of up to three litres and that have plastic lids must have these lids attached to the product itself.
Moreover, those placing single-use plastics beverage bottles of up to three litres on the market/into circulation are obliged to attain, in each calendar year, a minimum level of waste collection of such packaging. This means from January 2025, at least 77% of the weight of such packaging introduced to the market/into circulation per given calendar year; and from January 2029, at least 90%.
The laws also specify new obligations for other plastic items still in use, in particular:
The laws strengthen the so-called extended responsibility of producers principle (or persons placing such on the market/into circulation) for selected plastic waste. This covers, for example, filter-containing tobacco products, wet wipes, plastics bags, beverage containers of volumes up to three litres, and food containers. All such producers will have to compensate municipalities for product waste clean-up costs related to waste disposed outside of designated collection sites, and for the subsequent transport and processing costs and, additionally, also for waste collection costs associated with certain products within the municipal waste management system.
Cooperation between most producers and municipalities may be managed via collective systems, through which municipalities will receive financial contributions.
Producers placing plastic items, such as wet wipes, filter-containing tobacco products, and sanitary pads on the market will have additional information obligations, including to inform consumers how to properly dispose of these products.
Moreover, producers (or persons placing on the market/into circulation) certain plastic items such as sanitary pads, filler-containing tobacco products, plastic bags, or food containers, must organise educational and awareness-raising activities, for example educational campaigns to increase public awareness concerning recycling and the consequences of the improper disposal of plastic items. Certain producers will be able to fulfil such obligations by concluding contracts with collective system operators.
Certain provisions (obligations) under these acts could be interpreted as lacking clarity – and thus concrete rules may evolve based on established practice by the administrative authorities. For example, a ban on placing on the market or into circulation food containers made of expanded polystyrene does not specify whether it also applies to products made from extruded polystyrene expanded during the manufacturing process. Under the new laws, fines for infringements range from CZK 500,000 (approx. EUR 20,354) to up to CZK 10,000,000 (approx. EUR 407,083).
For more information, please contact the authors of the article.