Last straw? Czechia's disposable plastics ban moves forward

The proposal to limit single-use plastics and increase recycling aligns Czech law with EU directives.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 27.01.2022 13:00:00 (updated on 27.01.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Chamber of Deputies has given its initial support to a ban on disposable plastic cutlery, plates, and straws.

The law would be in line with a European Union directive against single-use plastics that was approved in 2019. The country has missed the EU deadline for implementing the directive, which was July 3, 2021. A similar proposal was submitted a year ago by Andrej Babiš’s government, but the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Parliament, did not discuss it before the elections, so a new proposal had to be made.

The bill will now go to the lower house’s Committee on the Environment for further discussion. If it eventually passes the Senate and is signed into law by the president, it would take effect in July 2023.

The law would ban the sale of a wide range of plastic products including cups, plates, straws, cutlery, food packaging, cotton swab rods, balloon rods, and wet wipes. The Environment Ministry says the ban would reduce the consumption of the included plastic products by about 1.77 billion pieces per year.

Deputy Berenika Peštová (ANO) pointed out that the ban does not extend to protective masks, gloves, or other safety items used, for example, to fight Covid.

The law also sets some requirements for specific plastic products. Three-liter containers with plastic caps and lids must have these caps attached to the product. There are also targets for recycling plastic beverage containers. By 2025, some 77 percent of the weight of packaging placed on the market or in circulation each year should be recovered, and by 2029 it should reach 90 percent.

Manufacturers must inform users how to properly dispose of sanitary napkins, tampons, wet wipes, or tobacco products with filters. These products will also get a unified label. Manufacturers of some products must also inform users about reusable alternatives.

The bill also increases the responsibility of some producers of selected plastic items. Cigarette manufacturers will have to make financial contributions for cleaning up cigarette waste in municipalities.

The proposal passed the first reading with no objections. Members of the right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), though, raised concerns that during Covid many people had to have food delivered in plastic packaging.

Compliance with the new law will be monitored by the Czech Trade Inspection Authority (ČOI), the Czech Food and Agricultural Inspection Authority (SZPI), and regional hygiene stations.  

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