As was announced last spring, the Netherlands is implementing new rules for single-use plastic packaging – specifically those used for takeaway foods and drinks – from July 1. Here’s what you need to know about the new laws. 

Dutch government’s new anti-single-use plastics policy 

Over a year ago, the Dutch government announced a new policy which is designed to reduce the use of single-use plastics in the Dutch catering and hospitality industry. In essence, the policy differentiates between food and drinks consumed on-site in cafes and restaurants, and anything ordered to take away. 

With this in mind, the new policy includes a ban on “the free supply of disposable plastic cups and food packaging for single use.” But what does this mean for you or your business?

What is changing from July 1, 2023?

Starting in July of this year, customers ordering food or drinks to-go will be required to pay extra for plastic packaging. This additional charge – like the deposit in place for cans and bottles – will come on top of the price paid for the drink and / or meal. 

Does the charge apply to all takeaway packaging?

Simply put, no – although it does apply to a lot of packaging. The additional charge applies to packaging which is partially or fully made out of plastic, so this includes to-go drinks containers that have a plastic layer on the inside. 

The charge doesn’t apply to packaging made of 100 percent paper.

How much will you have to pay?

There is no price set by the government, but businesses are advised to charge an additional 25 cents for a plastic cup and 50 cents for packaging for a meal. 

As a business owner, what do you need to do? 

Entrepreneurs have been told to ensure that the additional charge is made clear to customers – they cannot, for example, simply add them to the total price of the products they sell. Instead, the charge needs to be added as a separate cost on the receipt or highlighted using a poster on display within the establishment. 

Secondly, businesses need to provide customers with an alternative option to plastic packaging. As a standard, this includes the option for customers to bring their own reusable cups or containers, but businesses could also introduce their own reusable packaging or swap to plastic-free disposable packaging.

Will the new rules actually make a difference? 

According to former State Secretary for Environment Vivianne Heijnen, the Netherlands throws away 19 million plastic cups and pieces of food packaging every day. The government hopes the ban will reduce the use of single-use plastics by around 40 percent. 

The industry is less optimistic. While many businesses have already been struggling to implement alternative packaging options for customers, they point out that customers are already happy to pay extra for home delivery, so likely won’t bat an eyelid at having to pay an additional 25 or 50 cents per item ordered.

Are any other changes on the way?

Yes. Currently, the policy only applies to food and drinks ordered to-go, but from January 2024 businesses also won’t be able to use plastic packaging for on-site consumption (i.e. at festivals, in the office). This means re-usable crockery will become the standard, except at healthcare institutions like hospitals, which will be exempt from the rule.

Thumb: Kovalevich28 via

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