Editorial 8.12.2020

The objective of the SUP directive is good – its implementation is not

Juha-Heikki Tanskanen
Juha-Heikki Tanskanen

The Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUP Directive) is currently being implemented into Finnish law. It is a tough job and the schedule is tight. The provisions of the directive must be in force in the Member States by July 2021.  

It is already clear that Finland and many other countries will not be able to stay on schedule. People are working hard and numerous webinars are being held, but there seems to be very little to show for these efforts.

The reason for this inefficiency is that the publication of the guidelines for the directives interpretation, which are the Commissions responsibility, has been delayed. Experts in the Member States are considering the best ways to meet the directives requirements without knowing exactly which products they concern. Most people working on the issue are quite frustrated with the situation. 

There is far too much plastic in the seas and oceans, and this problem needs to be addressed. Plastic ends up in the seas especially in countries in which the collection and treatment of mixed waste is not organised properly. Most EU countries have such advanced waste management systems that their littering is negligible on the scale of the oceans of the world.  

It is doubtful that anyone is opposed to the EU standing out as making a determined effort to improve the management of material and waste flows in a more sustainable manner. There are, though, many who ask why there is such a hurry to implement the ambiguous and hastily prepared SUP Directive. Reducing marine plastic pollution surely cannot be given as an excuse for the rushed timetable and poor preparation.