Members of the Saeima’s Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee approved in the first reading on April 14 the legislative draft on products containing plastic. This legislative draft provides for banning certain plastic products starting from July 3 and developing measures to reduce their consumption.
The objective is preventing and reducing the impact of plastic products and plastic-containing fishing tools on the environment and people’s health. Changes are also intended to push the economy towards using more innovative and sustainable materials in order to make the domestic market more efficient, deputies were told by representatives of the Ministry of Environment Protection and Regional Development.
The legislative draft suggests manufacturers in Latvia will not be able to sell the following single-use products:
cotton buds, kitchen utensils (knives, forks, spoons, etc.), plates, straws, drink stirrers, as well as balloon sticks.
It is also planned to ban food and beverage packaging, stoppers and lids, and drink glasses made of expanded polystyrene. The same applies to single and multi-use products made from biodegradable plastics.
The legislative draft suggests making it compulsory for manufacturers to offer consumers alternative products that do not contain plastic or sell multi-use plastic products. For packaging manufacturers it is planned to develop requirements for the amount of recycled materials used in production, making it so that from January 1, 2030 onward packaging sold in Latvia is to contain at least 30% of recycled plastic, according to the legislative draft.
The proposed legislative draft does provide the option to sell out single-use plastic products if they are released to the market before July 2.
The ban will not extend to plastic products manufactured for medical equipment.
Changes will not apply to packaging for smoked food products and single-portion meals. Exports to third countries will not be affected either.
It is planned that from July 3 onward manufacturers and traders will need to start marking certain single-use products containing plastic: sanitary napkins, tampons, wet wipes, tobacco products with filters and filters intended to be used together with tobacco products, as well as drinking glasses.
Manufacturers will need to compose an expanded liability system for management of certain plastic-containing waste, wet wipes, cylinders, tobacco filters and fishing tools.
There are also plans to order manufacturers to organize collection of sorted packaging in order to help achieve the objective for plastic bottles – 77% by 2025 and 90% by 2029, as reported by the ministry.
Manufacturers will also need to inform consumers about the harm plastic does to the environment and the proper way plastic waste should be handled.
The government will need to develop criteria for proper classification of products containing plastic based on their single or multi-use purpose, as well as other requirements.
There is also a proposal to establish administrative liability for different violations of the law, including failure to provide alternatives to single-use products containing plastic. For private persons it is planned to use warnings and fines for up to thirty five penalty units, but for legal persons – warnings and fines up to seventy penalty units. One penalty unit is EUR 5.
Plastic consumption is on a rapid rise. Unfortunately, a part of the amount is not subject to recycling, which only leads to growing volumes of plastic waste, as members were told by the ministry’s representatives, stressing that when plastic ended up in the environment it might take several hundred years for plastic to fully degrade. The average volume of plastic produced in Latvia is 34,900 tons annually. However, only 40% of plastic packaging is recycled. In 2018, 150,000 plastic straws were used in Latvia every day, according to information from the ministry.
About 80% of all marine waste in Europe consists of plastic – mostly single-use products. Marine pollution with plastic waste is one of the biggest modern-day problems caused by unsustainable use of resources. Many marine animals are at risk because they often swallow plastic and die, authors of the legislative draft mention. (BNN/Business World Magazine)
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