The EU Directive on Single-Use Plastics could potentially be renamed the EU Directive on Single-Use. This could have huge implications for the events industry, so says John Reeves, senior consultant at Dtangle, a consultancy service, offering advice on legislation relating to foodservice and packaging…

As we prepare for what will hopefully be a return to what we do best in the near future, maybe now is a good time to consider the impact COVID-19 has had on our businesses, families and mental welfare and make sure we do all we can to limit the possibility of anything that can be so damaging happening again.

Although COVID-19 put the brakes on our industry in 2020, campaigns and legislation to slow down the pace of climate change have not. EU and UK legislative changes will have a huge effect on the events industry. It would be smart to start preparing for these now, as they will not only help reduce the environmental impact of your event, your customer actually wants and expects this.

The “EU Directive on Single-Use Plastics” could potentially be renamed the “EU Directive on Single-Use” meaning the directive could now be targeting all materials that are used once, as opposed to just plastics. The directive is due to be fully implemented by July 2021 and the UK Government has confirmed it intends to comply with the content of the directive fully, even though we are no longer members of the EU.

The directive introduces measures to limit the most commonly found items in our oceans, rivers and streams. These measures include market restrictions, improvement in product markings, extended producer responsibility (EPR) and legally binding consumption reduction targets for products such as food containers and cups for beverages, which are widely used in the events we create.

Additionally, the UK Government is introducing the Plastic Tax in April 2022, which will increase the cost of any single use packaging that does not include a minimum of 30 per cent recycled content. This at a time when the demand for recycled content is high and capacity for production is low.

The inevitable outcome of the EU Directives and the UK Government Plastics Tax is that we will be paying significantly more for single-use products at the same time we are being encouraged to use less.

All of this points towards the switch to sustainable solutions, which ironically is what the festivalgoer wants and expects. Recent GCA consumer research tells us that 83 per cent of festivalgoers believe that festivals they attend should tackle their environmental impacts. Furthermore, 24 per cent said they would be unlikely to return to an event that didn’t act on its sustainability responsibilities.

Climate change affects us all, our industry is not immune. In recent years, we have seen severe weather cause cancellations, which results in severe financial implications for everyone in and around festivals and events. Surely, as we recover from the worst year our industry has ever experienced, we should be looking at any way we can contribute to reducing the possibility of further disruptions that climate change can bring.

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