TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products - UN Environment ...

 
TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products - UN Environment ...
TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION:
Legislative Guide for the Regulation
of Single-Use Plastic Products
TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products - UN Environment ...
First published by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2020

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TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products - UN Environment ...
TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION:

Legislative Guide for the Regulation
of Single-Use Plastic Products
TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products - UN Environment ...
ii
TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products - UN Environment ...
Table of Contents

Abbreviations..........................................................................................................................................v

Acknowledgements................................................................................................................................vi

Executive summary.............................................................................................................................. viii

1. Introduction.......................................................................................................................................1
     1.1.    About the guide..............................................................................................................................................2
     1.2.    Caveats and limitations..................................................................................................................................3
     1.3.    Methodology...................................................................................................................................................4

2. Key considerations in drafting legislation on single-use plastics........................................................6
     2.1.    Developing legislation on single-use plastic...................................................................................................7
             Establish a baseline...............................................................................................................................................7
             Consider the objectives and policymaking principles............................................................................................7
             Select the appropriate regulatory approach or combination of approaches...........................................................9
             Engage in transparent and diverse consultations................................................................................................10
     2.2.    Legal drafting considerations.......................................................................................................................12
             Definitions...........................................................................................................................................................12
             Transparency.......................................................................................................................................................12
             Roles and responsibilities....................................................................................................................................12

3. Regulatory approaches....................................................................................................................14
     3.1.    Bans and restrictions....................................................................................................................................15
             Single-use plastic products to be targeted ..........................................................................................................15
                 Material composition...............................................................................................................................................................15
             Activities to be targeted................................................................................................................................18
             Exemptions...................................................................................................................................................18
                 Alternatives................................................................................................................................................................................19
                 Alternative plastics...................................................................................................................................................................19
             Alternative (non-plastic) materials...............................................................................................................21
             Phase-out periods and effective dates.........................................................................................................21
             Enforcement and penalties...........................................................................................................................22
             Implementation challenges and unintended impacts...................................................................................23
     3.2.    Economic instruments..................................................................................................................................24
             Taxes............................................................................................................................................................24
                 Point of charge..........................................................................................................................................................................25
                 Taxed and exempted products...............................................................................................................................................26
                 Unit to be taxed.........................................................................................................................................................................26
                 Tax rate.......................................................................................................................................................................................26
                 Enforcement and compliance................................................................................................................................................27
                 Use and management of revenues.......................................................................................................................................28
                 Implementation considerations and challenges and unintended impacts....................................................................28
                 Tax breaks, subsidies and other fiscal incentives...............................................................................................................29
     3.3.    Standards, certification and labelling...........................................................................................................31
TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products - UN Environment ...
Standards relating to consumer safety and environmental protection.................................................................31
                  Criteria and specifications......................................................................................................................................................31
                  Certification...............................................................................................................................................................................31
                  Labelling or marking................................................................................................................................................................33
                  Enforcement and compliance................................................................................................................................................35
              Implementation challenges and unintended impacts...........................................................................................36
     3.4.     Post-consumer use and product end of life..................................................................................................37
              Waste management legislation............................................................................................................................37
                  Prevention and minimization of single-use plastic waste.................................................................................................37
                  Collection, separation and recovery of single-use plastic waste.....................................................................................37
                  Payments and fees...................................................................................................................................................................37
                  Regulation of the informal sector..........................................................................................................................................37
              Extended producer responsibility........................................................................................................................38
                  EPR upstream: eco-design and material content...............................................................................................................39
                  EPR downstream: recycling and end-of-life management................................................................................................39
              Reuse and recycling of plastics...........................................................................................................................45
                  Recycling industry operations................................................................................................................................................45
                  Recycling targets......................................................................................................................................................................45
                  Incentives...................................................................................................................................................................................46
                  Enforcement and compliance................................................................................................................................................46
                  Implementation challenges and unintended impacts........................................................................................................46
              Take-back and deposit-refund schemes..............................................................................................................48
                  Scope of products covered.........................................................................................................................................................
                  Centralized versus decentralized systems..........................................................................................................................49
                  Fees and refunds......................................................................................................................................................................49
                  Labelling.....................................................................................................................................................................................51
                  Enforcement and compliance................................................................................................................................................51
                  Implementation challenges and unintended impacts........................................................................................................51
     3.5.     Other important measures
                  Consumer education................................................................................................................................................................52
                  Alternative products/materials..............................................................................................................................................53
                  Public procurement..................................................................................................................................................................53

4. Conclusion......................................................................................................................................55

Annexes................................................................................................................................................57
     1. Additional resources...........................................................................................................................................58
     2. List of laws and bills...........................................................................................................................................59
     3. References..........................................................................................................................................................62

iv      INTRODUCTION
TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products - UN Environment ...
Abbreviations

 CEN		European Committee for Standardization
 EPR		extended producer responsibility
 EUROPEN European Organization for Packaging and the Environment
 ISO		International Organization for Standardization
 OECD		Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
 PE		polyethylene (polythene)
 PET		polyethylene terephthalate
 PP		polypropylene
 UK		United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
 UNEP		United Nations Environment Programme
 US		United States of America
 WRI		World Resources Institute

                                                                   v
TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products - UN Environment ...
Acknowledgements

This publication was developed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in partnership with the World Resources
Institute (WRI). It was drafted by Carole Excell, Celine Salcedo-La Viña and Laura Notes of WRI. Experts from government, civil
society, the private sector and academia provided inspiration and extremely valuable advice and input, all of which significantly
helped shape the guide. In this regard, Adena Leibman, Andrea A. Jacobs, Carl Bruch, Christopher Chin, Clare Romanik, Collins Odote,
Eduardo Murat, Giulia Carlini, Hugo Schally, Isabelle Verderbeck, Jill Raval, John Hocevar, Justine Maillot, Marcelo Cousillas, Ryan
MacFarlane, Sirine Rached and Summer Coish, who participated in the experts consultations on the guide, deserve a special mention
for their contributions.

Clayton Adams, Fatou Ndoye, Isabelle Verderbeck, Jill Raval and Sunday Leonard of UNEP provided significant input during the
experts’ consultations. Allan Meso, Heidi Savelli-Soderberg and Llorenc Mila I Canals of UNEP provided extensive guidance and
reviewed the guide at various stages.

Thanks are also due to the external reviewers, including the focal points for the Montevideo Programme for the Development and
Periodic Review of Environmental Law from Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Finland, Germany, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, the
United Arab Emirates and the United States of America and the secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions.

Special thanks go to Andrew Raine (UNEP) and Kevin Moss (WRI) for their invaluable support throughout the process, and to
Susannah Keys (WRI), who provided administrative support for the development of the guide and the annexes. The Government of
Norway provided invaluable funding for this project through UNEP.

vi
TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products - UN Environment ...
Executive Summary

Overview                                                            use plastic products. It provides guidance on how to develop
                                                                    legislation on single-use plastic products, outlines the main
•   Plastic products designed to be used only once before they      regulatory alternatives, and suggests the key elements that each
    are disposed of, termed “single-use plastic products”, are      should include. It also provides guidance on the writing of clear
    increasingly regulated by Governments concerned about           and comprehensive laws and suggests key policy and drafting
    the environmental, social, health or other impacts of plastic   considerations. The guide gives examples of provisions from
    waste and pollution.                                            existing laws regulating single-use plastic products and more
                                                                    detailed information in the form of national case studies.
•   This guide is a tool to help legislators and policymakers
    explore options for reducing the harmful impacts of single-     The guide draws upon a comprehensive global review of existing
    use plastic products by regulating their production and         plastics legislation, Legal Limits on Single-Use Plastics and
    consumption, promoting alternatives and/or improving the        Microplastics: A Global Review of National Laws and Regulations,
    management, recycling and final disposal of single-use          conducted by UNEP and WRI in 2018 (UNEP 2018c). The review
    plastic waste.                                                  mapped the status of legislation in 193 countries and classified
                                                                    the various forms of legislation. In addition, the guide relies
•   The guide outlines the most used regulatory approaches          on a review of literature on the impacts of these regulatory
    and explains the main elements that legislators will need to    interventions, to the extent that such literature exists, conducted
    consider when drafting legislation.                             in the first half of 2019.

•   Each type of regulatory approach is illustrated by examples     In writing the guide, existing regulatory approaches were
    of actions taken by governments around the world, including     mapped relying on the global review. Under each of the identified
    sample legal provisions.                                        regulatory approaches, key elements were identified and then
                                                                    defined as the minimum components that legislators should
                                                                    incorporate or consider when crafting legislation or regulations
Context                                                             using that particular approach. The elements were taken
                                                                    from a combination of better practices identified during the
Concerns about the environmental and social harm caused             literature review, approaches used in existing laws and legal
by plastic waste and pollution have led to a surge in laws and      drafting principles. In each category of regulatory approach,
policies designed to control the production and use of single-      representative legal provisions were selected, ensuring that the
use plastic products. The legislation is not, however, always       examples reflected a diversity of policy goals and geographical
comprehensive or effective, and there is a lack of clear guidance   locations.
on what should be included – guidance that governments will
increasingly need.                                                  Developing legislation on single-use plastic products

This guide was developed to support the implementation of           Establish a baseline, consider the objectives and policymaking
resolutions 1/6, 2/11, 3/7, 4/6 and 4/9 of the United Nations       principles, select the right regulatory approach and engage in
Environment Assembly, adopted at its first, second, third and       transparent and diverse consultations.
fourth sessions in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019 respectively, which    Baseline assessments can provide information on the
call on States to address the environmental impacts of marine       environmental harm caused by single-use plastics, the realities of
plastic litter and pollution from single-use plastic products.      the market, consumer attitudes and the potential social impacts
Furthermore, in 2019 the European Union issued a new directive,     of a policy. They can also address the availability of sustainable
2019/904, on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic         alternatives and assess the comparative environmental impact
products on the environment, that will require member States        of those alternatives throughout the product life cycle. Careful
to adopt national legislation banning certain single-use plastic    selection of the policy priorities and the regulatory approach can
products. The guide aims to aid legislators and policymakers        result in a law that is tailored to concerns identified in the baseline
around the globe, including those without expertise in the          assessment. Rigorous, expansive consultations will limit later
subject, in understanding possible regulatory approaches and        implementation challenges and ensure that stakeholders’
the elements that should be included when they draft legislation.   concerns are incorporated into the legislation.

                                                                    Use clear definitions, incorporate transparency and
About the guide                                                     accountability mechanisms and articulate precise institutional
                                                                    roles and responsibilities
The guide is intended to be a practical tool for those working      Single-use plastic regulation can involve technical terms that
to develop laws and regulations to limit or manage single-          must be clearly explained to avoid confusion. Clear definitions will

                                                                                                                                        vii
TACKLING PLASTIC POLLUTION: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products - UN Environment ...
aid subsequent implementation and interpretation. Transparency           How the tax revenues will be managed and by which agency and
and accountability mechanisms must be considered where                   for what purpose the revenues will be used.
taxes or fees are collected, funds are created, and licences are
allocated. Accountability mechanisms should ensure that there            Fiscal incentives can take a wide variety of forms, depending
are opportunities for appealing enforcement of the law and               on the behaviour that they are intended to incentivize. Laws can
making complaints. Institutional roles must be clearly defined,          create tax incentives or subsidies for the production or sale of
appropriate resources allocated and sufficient mandates for              alternatives to single-use plastic products.
implementation granted to the appropriate authorities.
                                                                         Product standards, certification and labelling requirements
Principal regulatory approaches                                          can be designed to target sustainable alternatives to single-
                                                                         use plastics or to mitigate the harm caused by single-use
Bans and restrictions directly prohibit the production,                  plastics.
importation or exportation, distribution, sale or use of one or          In the preparation of legislation that includes standards, the
more single-use plastic products. When preparing legislation to          guide recommends consideration of the following:
ban single-use plastics, this guide recommends consideration
of the following:                                                        •   What criteria and specifications will be imposed on single-
                                                                             use plastics, such as requirements related to the specific
•      Which single-use products the ban will target, along with             material composition or to features such as recyclability,
       precise definitions of each product.                                  reusability, compostability and biodegradability.

•      Which activities the legislation will target. It can cover any    •   How compliance with legislated standards will be verified
       part of a product’s life cycle from production through to             and by which authorities or entities.
       use, or target one specific behaviour, such as the sale of the
       product.                                                          •   What labels or marking on products will be required to show
                                                                             compliance with environmental standards.
•      What exemptions will be established in the legislation.
       Certain types of plastic or certain uses of single-use plastics   •   What enforcement mechanisms will ensure compliance
       may be exempted from the ban for a variety of reasons, such           with any legislated standards.
       as health and safety concerns or the lack of sustainable
                                                                         Extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes use a
       alternatives.
                                                                         combination of regulatory approaches to extend manufactur-
                                                                         ers’ responsibility for single-use plastic products throughout
•      Which alternatives to the banned products should be
                                                                         their life cycle, including to the end-of-life stage.
       exempted from the scope of or promoted by the legislation,
       based on their environmental and other impacts.                   An EPR scheme will include an “upstream” component, which
                                                                         focuses on the design and material content of products, with
•      What the effective period of implementation should be,            the goal of promoting more sustainable products (eco-design),
       possibly involving a grace period for the implementation of       and a “downstream” component, which requires that producers
       a ban or a phased approach to the introduction of the new         directly or indirectly take responsibility for the plastic waste from
       requirements.                                                     their products. In the preparation of legislation that includes
                                                                         EPR upstream, the guide recommends consideration of the
•      Which authorities should be responsible for enforcement,          following:
       what enforcement mechanisms are needed and what                   • Which producers and products will be targeted with the
       penalties should be imposed for violation of the ban.                  policy.

Economic instruments impose taxes to deter production or
                                                                         •   Which types of product will be exempt from eco-design
use of single-use plastics or offer tax breaks, subsidies or
                                                                             requirements.
other fiscal incentives to encourage the production and use of
alternatives to single-use plastic products.
                                                                         •   Which eco-design standards will be chosen, such as those
In the preparation of legislation to impose taxes on single-use              that prioritize human health and safety (e.g., permitted
plastic products, the guide recommends consideration of the                  levels of harmful substances) or technical performance
following:                                                                   (e.g., the degree of recyclability or permitted levels of
                                                                             recycled content).
•      The point of charge, meaning when the tax is imposed, the
       level at which it is set and who will pay it.                     •   Whether economic instruments can contribute to the
                                                                             scheme by creating incentives for eco-design.
•      Which products are covered by the tax and what exceptions
       are allowed.                                                      •   How labelling requirements can help consumers understand
                                                                             which products meet eco-design standards.
•      The unit on which the tax is imposed, such as a single plastic
       bag or plastic amounting to a certain weight.                     Considerations for EPR downstream include the following:

•      How the tax will be documented, reported and collected, and       •   How to define the parties responsible, including which
       which people or entities will be responsible for collecting it.       entities will be considered a producer.

viii
•   Which single-use plastic products will be covered by the        Legislators may consider setting recycling targets, for example,
    EPR scheme.                                                     a certain percentage of products to be recycled or of recycled
                                                                    content in new plastics. Targets may be paired with economic
•   The type of EPR system, meaning the form of responsibility      instruments, such as incentives and sanctions. Deposit-refund
    that will be imposed on producers.                              schemes, which require a deposit when plastic packaging is
                                                                    purchased, to be refunded if the packaging is returned, also seek
•   The roles and responsibilities of those responsible for         to improve collection rates for higher-quality recycling. In the
    implementing the EPR scheme, including whether producer         preparation of legislation that includes deposit-refund schemes,
    responsibility organizations will be established.               the guide recommends consideration of the following:

•   How to regulate the costs of the scheme and any fee             •   What types of product the deposit will be imposed on and
    structures.                                                         which products will be eligible for return.

Waste management legislation can be amended so that it              •   Whether the scheme will be centralized, with a deposit
better fosters opportunities for single-use plastics to be              company that arranges and collects the fee, or use of a
recovered, recycled or reused.                                          decentralized system with multiple different schemes for
Waste management policies can take numerous forms, but                  different products.
involve support for the separate collection of different waste
streams, either through the mandating of separate collection at     •   How much the fee will be, how it will be collected and
the household and/or commercial level or waste separation at            refunded, how uncollected deposits will be used and how
a later stage. Economic instruments such as landfill fees can           the funds will be managed.
target waste management practices. Legislation can support
the waste management work of the informal sector or “waste          •   What labelling requirements can signal that an item is
pickers” by, for example, increasing compensation for their             subject to the scheme and inform customers that the item
work or supporting formal recognition of their collectives.             is returnable for a refund.
Legislators and policymakers may also need to address rules
relating to exports or imports of plastic waste, including how      This guide also highlights the potential for governments to
new rules under the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of         be creative in combining approaches or generating other
Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their               solutions.
Disposal (Basel Convention) impact national practices. Similarly,   Other regulatory approaches that have been legislated to effect a
national-level waste management legislation can support             change in consumer and producer behaviour include consumer
efforts to recycle single-use plastics. This support can take       education programmes, funds or prizes; public procurement
myriad forms, including funding for research and development,       requirements; reuse incentives; and public-private partnerships.
funding for acquisition of technologies for the recycling of
single-use plastics, the harmonization of recycling standards at
the local level or support for the design of recyclable products.

                                                                                                                                   ix
1. Introduction

                  1
Single-use plastic products, also referred to as disposable         single-use plastic products. After China introduced a ban on
plastics, are common plastic items intended to be used              the importation of 24 kinds of solid waste, including plastics,
only once by the consumer before they are disposed of. The          in 2017, top waste-producing countries have scrambled to deal
definition of such plastics is discussed in box 1. Concerns         with accumulating plastic waste. Much of that waste has been
about the environmental and social harm caused by plastic           diverted to poorer countries, which object to being treated as a
waste and pollution have led, in recent years, to a surge in        dumping ground (Freytas-Tamura, 2018; Holden, 2019).
laws and policies designed to control the production and use
of single-use plastics. This trend dates from the early 2000s,      In May 2019, at its fourteenth meeting, the Conference of
when efforts to target the use of plastic bags first began. Since   the Parties to the Basel Convention, which comprises 186
that time, there has been a steady increase in such legislation     countries and one regional economic integration organization,
globally; by July 2018, at least 127 countries had adopted some     amended Annexes II, VIII and IX to the Convention with a view to
form of legislation regulating plastics (UNEP, 2018d). Much         enhancing control of the transboundary movements of plastic
of this legislation, however, is not comprehensive, addressing      waste and clarifying the scope of the Convention as it applies to
only certain single-use plastic products or only specific           such waste. These changes will require adjustments to national
circumstances, and overall global consumption and circulation       policies and regulations regarding plastic waste management
of single-use plastic products remains high.                        worldwide.

Accordingly, policymakers are increasingly calling for more
encompassing limitations on the production and consumption          1.1       About the guide
of single-use plastics and for improved post-use management.
The United Nations Environment Assembly, at its first, second,      This legislative guide is intended to help policymakers and
third and fourth sessions, in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019             legislators who are seeking to develop legislation that addresses
respectively, adopted resolutions 1/6, 2/11, 3/7, 4/6 and 4/9       the continuing reliance on single-use plastic products to avert
to address the environmental impacts of marine plastic litter       the longer-term environmental, social and economic harm
and pollution from single-use plastic products. Stressing the       caused by plastic litter and plastic pollution. It complements
importance of the long-term elimination of the discharge of         existing documents available to policymakers and legislators,
litter and microplastics to the oceans, the resolutions call on     providing guidance on the development of legislation on plastic
States Members to develop national actions to address the           pollution, outlining the main regulatory options and making
environmental impacts of single-use plastics. Resolution 4/9        recommendations on the elements to be included in each option.
also encourages States Members to develop and implement             It provides guidance on the writing of clear and comprehensive
national or regional actions, as appropriate, in order to address   laws and suggests key policy and drafting considerations. It
the environmental impact of single-use plastic products, to take    also gives examples of provisions from existing laws regulating
comprehensive action with regard to single-use plastic products     single-use plastic products.
in addressing related waste through, where appropriate,
legislation and to take other actions to promote alternatives to    The main audiences of the guide are policymakers, lawyers
single-use plastics, improve waste management and develop           and legislators. Civil society and the broader community
sustainable consumption patterns. Policymakers are also             working to develop better regulations on plastic pollution may
urging all actors to step up actions to achieve Sustainable         also find it useful. The guide is designed in such a way that
Development Goal 14, which is, by 2025, to prevent and              policymakers themselves can determine which sections are
significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular   relevant to their policy approach and the legislation that they
from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient    are crafting. Nevertheless, it is hoped that this guide will be
pollution (United Nations, 2015). This guide therefore aims to      used in a holistic manner. Some of the most effective plastic
help States that are developing national legislation on plastic,    pollution policies are those that combine a variety of legislative
including single-use plastics, in response to these resolutions.    approaches. Furthermore, a holistic reading of the guide will help
                                                                    policymakers understand the range of approaches available to
Regionally, in 2019, the European Union issued a new directive,     them. While comprehensive research on the environmental and
2019/904, on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic         other impacts of each of these approaches is lacking, some
products on the environment, which will require States Members      preliminary comments on the potential challenges relating to
to adopt national legislation banning certain single-use plastic    each of them is offered. Policymakers will need to consider these
products and improving the management of others to reduce           carefully, preferably in the light of environmental studies and
their impact on the marine environment. Some of the measures,       consultations that explore further the potential environmental,
including a ban on specified products, must be in place by 3        social, economic and other impacts of each given approach.
July 2021. Although less authoritative than the European Union,
other regions, such the Caribbean and the Pacific, have seen        There is no one-size-fits-all approach to regulating single-use
some momentum in the coordination of legislation on single-use      plastic products. This guide gives examples of existing legislation
plastic products (Chappell, 2018). The East African Community       and identifies common elements of such legislation based on
has for several years been considering a polythene materials        a global comparative study. Nevertheless, economic, political,
control bill, which would create a common commitment to             social and other contexts will always require the tailoring of
banning plastic bags.                                               policies to the local context. For this reason, the present guide
                                                                    emphasizes the importance of baseline studies and extensive
Recent developments relating to global waste management             consultations with key stakeholders.
may provide further incentive for countries to amend laws on

2      INTRODUCTION
Box 1:       What is a single-use plastic product?
  The guide considers single-use plastic products to be plastic bags and plastics commonly used for the packaging, wrapping
  or handling of goods, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, drink and food containers, plastic cotton buds, balloons, tobacco
  products with filters, wet wipes and sanitary towels. It does not include in the definition microbeads, plastic toys, fishing gear
  or pellets.
  Different jurisdictions, however, should determine the scope of any such definition based on the materials to be regulated. Laws
  may therefore differ in terms of the types of plastic that they cover. For example, the 2019 European Union directive, 2019/904,
  on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment provides the following guidance to member
  States in defining single-use plastics:
       “(12) … the term ‘single-use plastic product’ should be defined. The definition should exclude plastic products that are
       conceived, designed and placed on the market to accomplish within their life span multiple trips or rotations by being refilled
       or reused for the same purpose for which they are conceived. Single-use plastic products are typically intended to be used
       just once or for a short period of time before being disposed of. Wet wipes for personal care and domestic use should also
       be within the scope of this Directive, whereas industrial wet wipes should be excluded. To further clarify whether a product
       is to be considered a single-use plastic product for the purposes of this Directive, the Commission should develop guidelines
       on single-use plastic products. In view of the criteria set out in this Directive, examples of food containers to be considered
       as single-use plastic products for the purposes of this Directive are fast-food containers or meal, sandwich, wrap and salad
       boxes with cold or hot food, or food containers of fresh or processed food that does not need further preparation, such as
       fruits, vegetables or desserts. Examples of food containers that are not to be considered as single-use plastic products for the
       purposes of this Directive are food containers with dried food or food that is sold cold requiring further preparation, containers
       containing food in more than single-serve portions or single-serve portion-sized food containers sold in more than one unit.
       …“Article 3
       Definitions
       …
       (2) ‘single-use plastic product’ means a product that is made wholly or partly from plastic and that is not conceived, designed
       or placed on the market to accomplish, within its life span, multiple trips or rotations by being returned to a producer for refill
       or re-used for the same purpose for which it was conceived;”
  Single-use plastic products may be composed of a variety of types of plastic but differentiating between these various types
  may be important for recycling or waste management purposes. The Plastics Industry Association provides a categorization
  that is commonly used by manufacturers and consumers. These are:
  1.       Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE or PET)
  2.       High-density polyethylene (HPDE)
  3.       Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or V)
  4.       Low-density polyethylene (LPDE)
  5.       Polypropylene (PP)
  6.       Polystyrene (PS)
  7.       Other plastics (OTHER)

The guide comprises four sections. This first section introduces        1.2        Caveats and limitations
the challenges posed by single-use plastics and describes the
purpose of the guide, its intended audiences and the limitations        Comprehensive research on the social, environmental and
of its use. It also sets out the methodology employed in                economic consequences of the various policy interventions
preparing the guide. The second section outlines the preliminary        used to regulate single-use plastics products is lacking. There is,
assessments that policymakers should undertake before                   however, a pool of relatively robust literature evaluating whether
developing a new law or regulation. The third and main section          plastic bag bans and levies have resulted in reduced plastic bag
of the guide examines the regulatory approaches currently               consumption. Nevertheless, even in that area, research into the
being used to manage the impact of single-use plastic products.         broader impacts of the policies and their effectiveness remains
For each approach, the guide examines the key elements that             limited and the literature inadequately addresses the impacts
should be included in potential interventions, offers sample            of such policies in lower-income countries. The literature on
legal provisions from existing legislation and provides at least        other policies that target single-use plastic products remains
one case study. The fourth section examines some of the                 sparse, partly because many of the policies are relatively new.
alternative approaches that countries have developed to address         The lack of a strong evidence base limits the ability of this guide
single-use plastics.

                                                                                                                                             3
to make recommendations regarding good practices; in some               •   Information indicating successes, failures or unintended
instances, the authors were able only to map existing examples              consequences in implementation, enforcement or
of legislation and not their ensuing success or failure. It is              compliance
therefore particularly important that Governments conduct their
own assessments of and research into the potential impact of            •   Legal regulations using a circular economy approach
the policies proposed.
                                                                        •   The reasons for adoption of the chosen method of regulation
Some preliminary consideration has been given to the potential
effects of the various policy approaches, informed by a review of       Initially, the literature review focused on identifying any studies
the literature. This guide does not, however, engage in a broader       or reports that provided overall commentary on regulatory
debate about the best policy approaches for regulating single-          approaches, followed by review of those that focused on specific
use plastic products. For example, concerns exist about the wider       approaches. The findings of the 2018 global review were then
environmental impact of banning certain single-use plastics if          used to delve deeper into certain issues. For example, using the
consumers replace them with other environmentally harmful               countries identified in the global review as having specific types
choices. Some of these policy issues are briefly discussed, such        of policies, specific searches were conducted to try to identify
as those relating to the use of alternatives to plastics, but more      any subsequent information on the implementation or impacts
comprehensive discussion is beyond the scope of this guide.             of that particular regulatory approach in those countries.

Finally, while a wide variety of laws are examined to show potential    The legislative guidance covers four categories of regulatory
regulatory options, the fact that this is an English-language guide     approach that can be adopted for single-use plastic products:
means that the selection of legal provisions is skewed towards          bans and restrictions; economic instruments; standards,
English-speaking countries or countries where good translations         certification and labelling; and post-consumer use and product
are available. Where possible, we have summarized non-English           end of life. In each of these categories, threefold analysis
laws in a narrative form, including some French- and Spanish-           was conducted, informed by (i) the legislation review; (ii) the
language laws.                                                          literature review and basic principles of legislative drafting;
                                                                        and (iii) applicable provisions in relevant international soft law
                                                                        documents.
1.3       Methodology
                                                                        First, under each of the four categories, the range of existing
This legislative guide draws upon two streams of research.              national regulatory approaches were mapped, using the global
The first is a comprehensive global review of existing plastics         review of legislation to identify the main types and the extent to
legislation carried out by UNEP and WRI, Legal Limits on Single-        which had been adopted by countries. Key elements under each
Use Plastics and Microplastics: A Global Review of National Laws        regulatory approach were then identified, which were defined
and Regulations (UNEP, 2018c). The review examined legislation          as the minimum components that need to be incorporated or
in 193 countries, using one set of indicators relating to plastic bag   considered during the design of that type of legislation. The
regulations and a similar set of indicators relating to single-use      elements were chosen based on a review of existing laws and
plastics regulations more generally. The indicators, which can          legal drafting principles.
be examined in full in tables 42 and 43 of the review, provide a
detailed classification of the scope and nature of the regulations      Second, representative legal provisions were selected to highlight
examined with respect to manufacture and production, use,               various features of the regulatory approach examined in each
disposal and trade for plastic bags and for single-use plastic          section. In selecting these provisions, the following factors were
products. For each of the four categories there were indicators         considered:
relating to the overall regulatory approach, the materials being
regulated, responsibility for the payment of fees and taxes, and        •   Whether the examples were representative of the major
the extent of the prohibition or ban. This information was used             regulatory approaches
to comprehensively map the existing landscape of single-use
plastic regulations.                                                    •   Whether the examples reflected diverse policy approaches
                                                                            to regulating single-use plastic products and diverse legal
The second research stream is a literature review that was                  avenues for achieving those goals
conducted in the first half of 2019 to examine the impact of
existing laws and policies and related successes and challenges.        •   Whether there was geographic diversity among the countries
The literature review focused on reports from authoritative                 that had enacted the selected provisions
sources, published academic studies and policy documents.
Owing, however, to the limited existence of literature evaluating       Although the provisions were selected to highlight a diversity
the impact of specific regulatory approaches, news articles,            of approaches rather than good practices, consideration was
websites and other less formal sources were also considered.            made on whether they reflected principles of international
The literature review sought to identify the following:                 environmental law, such as the “polluter pays” principle, and
                                                                        other standards in other international instruments; whether the
•   Legislative approaches with some positive impact on single-         choice of approach was rooted in a baseline assessment of the
    use plastic reduction, reuse or recycling                           particular country’s reliance on single-use plastic products; and
                                                                        whether the policy had had an actual impact on the management
•   Evidence of gaps in legislative or regulatory approaches            of single-use plastic products, where evidence was available.

4       INTRODUCTION
Third, although this guide does not attempt to map in a             of various approaches, implementation and enforcement
comprehensive manner the impact or policy consequences of           issues and possible secondary consequences, such as social
the various interventions, each section includes a short summary    or economic impacts. Given the limited existing literature on
of policy concerns and possible unintended impacts that             these issues, however, the sections should be considered
drafters may want to consider. Case studies are also featured       as preliminary. They are included to offer guidance on what
throughout the guide, which may offer insight into the impacts,     kinds of questions policymakers should ask as they conduct
lessons learned and challenges resulting from a particular          impact assessments or engage in consultations in relation to a
regulatory intervention. These sections of the guide are informed   proposed single-use plastic regulation.
by the literature review and deal with the environmental impacts

                                                                                                                                 5
2. Key considerations in drafting
   legislation on single-use plastics

6   KEY CONSIDERATIONS IN DRAFTING LEGISLATION ON SINGLE-USE PLASTICS
The first part of this section looks at the main choices               examine the potential economic, social and environmental
policymakers must make when developing legislation on single-          consequences of the proposed regulatory change, including who
use plastic legislation. These include:                                will likely benefit and who will bear the costs. They also identify
                                                                       what mix of policies would be needed to achieve the identified
•   establishing a baseline                                            public policy goals (Organization for Economic Cooperation and
                                                                       Development (OECD), 2012).
•   considering objectives and policymaking principles
                                                                       Regulatory impact assessments are helpful for planning
•   selecting the appropriate regulatory approach                      specific regulations. For example, a recent study prepared for
                                                                       the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
•   engaging in transparent and diverse consultations.                 Northern Ireland evaluated a proposed ban on plastic straws,
                                                                       plastic-stem cotton buds and plastic drink stirrers. The study
The second part makes some recommendations to guide the                examined two different scenarios – a ban or no ban – to aid
legal drafting process, focusing on how drafters can plan ahead        legislators in choosing the approach. Under each scenario,
to avoid common difficulties in implementing legislation on            it assessed the current market for each product, evaluated
single-use plastics, including the monitoring and evaluation of        stakeholder perceptions of a ban, examined social and economic
enforcement.                                                           impacts and identified implementation risks. It also looked at the
                                                                       environmental impacts of each approach and conducted a life-
                                                                       cycle assessment (United Kingdom, 2019).
2.1       Developing legislation on
          single-use plastic                                           A life-cycle assessment is a key tool at this stage. It entails
                                                                       a “cradle-to-grave” evaluation of the resource use and
                                                                       environmental risks associated with a product (Curran, 2016).
Establish a baseline                                                   This tool can guide legislators in considering how to regulate a
                                                                       product throughout its life cycle, thereby minimizing the harm
Before enacting legislation regulating single-use plastics,            caused by the product at various stages, and in considering
Governments should consider conducting their own baseline              what alternatives to promote over others.
assessments to obtain an understanding of which single-
use plastic products are most prevalent and problematic
in their nation. In the assessment, Governments should                 Consider the objectives and policymaking
identify the sources of those plastics and the reasons that            principles
they are problematic and identify their social, economic and
environmental impacts (UNEP 2018d). Assessments should                 Generally, Governments should bear in mind the relevant
also seek to determine the perceptions of consumers, industry          international treaty obligations by which they are bound, such
and other stakeholders regarding single-use plastics and their         as those of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic
willingness to accept regulatory interventions. This is important      Pollutants (Stockholm Convention) and the Basel Convention.
for anticipating potential implementation challenges or public         States may have responsibilities under such treaties to take
backlash. Establishment of a baseline will also facilitate the         steps to minimize the generation of plastic waste, ensure the
monitoring of results, which is essential for measuring the            environmentally sound management of plastic waste and
effectiveness of a policy intervention in combating plastic waste      control transboundary movements of hazardous plastic waste.
and pollution.                                                         Members of the European Union also have obligations under
                                                                       the 2019 directive 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of
Baseline assessments can ensure that the legislation targets           certain plastic products on the environment.
the most problematic plastic products and determine what
alternatives are already known and available. For example, the         Beyond their international commitments, policymakers should
2019 European Union directive, 2019/904, on the reduction              decide what they wish to accomplish through the legislation. The
of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment           main objectives will vary depending on domestic factors such
identifies a list of single-use plastic products that will no longer   as local policy priorities, environmental and pollution concerns,
be marketed in the region based on the most common sources             consumer habits, industry and business concerns, national and
of plastic litter in the Union. It is estimated that the plastics on   local government goals and the political situation.
the list account for 86 per cent of plastic litter on European
beaches. For some other plastics, a ban was not considered a           Possible objectives include:
feasible option because sustainable alternatives were not yet
available. For these, the directive adopted alternative regulatory     •   Reducing plastic pollution
approaches. In this way, it combined consideration of which
products were harmful with consideration of the extent of              •   Reducing the amount of plastic in landfills
change that consumers could realistically handle.
                                                                       •   Easing waste management burdens or reducing costs for
Another key tool for policymakers is a regulatory impact                   the Government
assessment, which maps the potential impacts of a proposed
policy approach. Good practice is for such assessments to              •   Addressing the specific public health impacts of plastic as
                                                                           opposed to other materials

                                                                                                                                         7
•     Complying with regional regulations and standards             •    Circular economy: In a traditional linear economy model,
                                                                         resources are extracted, made into products and disposed
•     Reducing marine ocean debris and harm to wildlife                  of. A circular economy model may emphasize eliminating
                                                                         waste; increasing reuse, recycling and recovery of materials;
•     Encouraging a shift in consumer behaviour towards the use          reducing use of finite resources and shifting to renewable
      of more sustainable alternatives                                   alternatives; and decreasing negative elements such as
                                                                         pollution (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015; Kirchherr,
•     Improving overall environmental regulatory standards               Reike and Hekkert, 2017; World Economic Forum, 2014).
                                                                         Box 2 gives an example of how this policy approach might
•     Reducing the volume of single-use plastic products entering        influence legislation.
      the market or increasing recycling
                                                                    •    “Polluter pays” principle: Under the “polluter pays” principle,
Table 1 gives examples of how different types of legislation can         environmental policies seek to place the cost of pollution
support different policy aims.                                           on the person or entity responsible for generating it. Such

Table 1: Examples of policy approaches and possible legislative responses

    Type of policy              Ban            EPR up-       EPR down-      Tax            Procurement     Fees            Standards/
                                               stream        stream                        rules                           labelling

    Supporting alternatives     ü              ü                            ü              ü               ü               ü
    to single-use plastic
    products

    Promoting reuse             ü              ü                                           ü               ü               ü

    Developing recycling                       ü             ü              ü              ü                               ü
    markets

    Shifting economies away     ü              ü                            ü                              ü               ü
    from the production
    of single-use plastic
    products

    Increasing the provision                                 ü              ü                              ü
    of funding to improve
    waste collection

    Reducing problematic        ü              ü                            ü                              ü               ü
    single-use plastic
    products

Governments should also consider the environmental                       approaches may suggest the use of economic instruments
policymaking approaches that they wish to govern the                     to internalize the costs of health, environmental or other
legislation. The following are particularly important in the             harm caused by producers.
context of legislation on single-use plastic products and are
well developed in international discourse:                          •    Just transition: The concept of “just transition” involves
                                                                         ensuring that the move to a sustainable economy integrates
•      Waste management hierarchy: At the global level, the              the “goals of decent work for all, social inclusion and the
       waste management hierarchy concept encompasses                    eradication of poverty” (International Labour Organization,
       prevention, minimization, reuse, recycling, other types of        2015). This principle can help legislators consider the
       recovery, including energy recovery, and final disposal.          impacts of single-use plastic policies on groups that may
       Waste prevention should be the preferred option in any            not have a voice in high-level environmental policy debates
       waste management policy. This policy approach may                 or people that may lose their jobs because of legislative
       inspire a regulatory choice focused on the production of          changes. It may mean developing creative policies that
       and consumer demand for single-use plastic products               promote economic and employment opportunities relating
       instead of on recycling and waste recovery efforts.               to alternatives to single-use plastic products; supporting
                                                                         those whose livelihood is highly dependent on single-use

8         KEY CONSIDERATIONS IN DRAFTING LEGISLATION ON SINGLE-USE PLASTICS
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