Are you ready for the new EU regulation against single use plastic items

EU regulation against single use plastics

  If you haven’t heard of the long-anticipated EU ban of single-use plastic, you have some catching up to do. It was approved in the first Q of 2019 and it states that single-use plastic items will be banned for production by 2021. And here we are…

This year we’ll have to see ecological friendly alternatives of plastic forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks, plates, straws, cotton buds, balloon sticks, food containers, and our favorite - polystyrene cups. 

This measure comes in a bundle of legislative activities aiming to fight the industrial effects of climate change. It is part of the Juncker Commission's Circular Economy Action Plan and is part of the EU Plastics Strategy. We agree that those steps are belated, to say the least, since scientists have been alarming governments for decades. However, the new standards include higher company responsibility and more precise monitoring of industrial polluters.

Starting from this year all EU states will have to achieve a target of 90% collection of plastic bottles that end up in the recycle bin, by 2029, and newly produced plastic bottles will have to contain at least 25% of recycled material by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

Nordics are whistling carefree while our mouthwash bottles are produced from 100% recycled plastic from day one. Furthermore, Nordics was one of the pioneers introducing bamboo drinking straws for the European market.

Let’s get back to the legislative novelties. The expected outcomes from this ecological measure are to lessen the CO2 emission by 3.4 million tons, to avoid an ecological footprint that would cost the equivalent of €22 billion by 2030, and to save consumers a projected €6.5 billion.

The other important side of it is the “the polluter pays” principle. This means that every company should pay an equal price for the direct and indirect pollution it makes, including CO2. Actually, this is part of the 1992 Rio Declaration, a guide with general principles for sustainability.

Part of the new policy is targeting consumer education and consumer behavior. By mandatory labeling for packaging, users will be warned of the environmental damage they would cause by disposing of products incorrectly. For example many western countries and retailers' own brands have been doing this for quite some time now, uptaking the heavy task of consumer teaching. 

Nordics’ products are born from the sustainability concept. We are passionate supporters of the principle "reduce, reuse, recycle". That's why our products are saving the Planet and satisfying the most pretentious consumer needs since 2015. But as we can see from the new EU law - it's a shared mission of manufacturers and consumers.

Recyclable tubes - a major step to sustainability

     There was one major ecological problem related to toothpaste tubes and that was that they are just not recyclable. That is due to the fine aluminum layer inside the plastic tube that protects the flavor from escaping during the long shelf-life of the product. The two types of materials are inseparable agglutinated to one another that dooms the annual use of 400M toothpaste tubes to lay in the landfills. 

That’s not all. The most common plastic materials in the oral care industry are extracted from fossils which are finite resources and the manufacturing process is, as we all know, very polluting. Petroleum quantities are diminishing with only 1/4th of the current consumption actually being provided through extraction. Growing consumer concerns and governmental legislation about plastic and waste are the tipping points that have to make companies reorganize their production.

     Being the innovators in the sector, Nordics turned the standard way of manufacturing toothpaste inside out. At the end of 2020, the company introduced its first toothpaste tube made entirely from bioplastic (polymerized sugar cane). Bio-plastics are using renewable plant-based resources like potatoes, vegetable fats, and oils, corn starch, cellulose from trees and straw.

Nordics uses 100% sugar cane for the production its toothpaste tubes. Sugar cane polyethylene has the same properties as petrochemical polyethylene which means that the preservation of the toothpaste flavor, moisture, density, and effects are securely shielded.

Another very important benefit of bio-based polymers is that they make a really low CO2 footprint. The reasons for this are 1) they prevent petrol extraction from the Earth, 2) sugar cane naturally sucks out large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere. That is how the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, a product, or a person drastically decreases when using a daily product in bio-plastic packaging. The Brazilian chemicals group Braskem claims that using its method of producing polyethylene from sugar cane ethanol captures (removes from the environment) 2.15 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of Green Polyethylene produced. If the old bioplastic tubes are recycled, and consumers close the production circle, we are actually reversing the effect of Global warming due to greenhouse gases.

     Bio-plastic doesn’t necessarily mean that it is compostable or biodegradable. See the differences in the 3 general categories below:

  1. Bio-based/renewable and non-biodegradable plastic
  2. Bio-based/renewable and biodegradable plastic - Nordics toothpaste packaging falls under that category
  3. Fossil-based and biodegradable plastic

Bioplastic usage in toothpaste packaging is a very important step for a massive decrease in plastic waste ending up in landfills and oceans. Nordics are proud to have finally introduced the opportunity for creating a closed consumer cycle to the wider public. Ideally, when recycled, the material invested in the production of one packaging will relatively stay the same.