Climate Change Single Use Plastics Regulations 2022
Effective from 19 October 2023, the Isle of Man will cease the supply of specified single-use plastics. Notably, the Isle of Man took an early initiative within the British Isles by enacting legislation to ban all items listed under the EU Plastics Directive, emerging as a leader in the fight against plastic pollution alongside jurisdictions like Scotland.
The utilisation of single-use plastics signifies an unsustainable depletion of oil, a finite resource. Several local businesses and organisations have already taken the responsible step of eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic items from their premises. It is essential to acknowledge that alternatives to single-use plastics are readily available. By reducing our reliance on these items, we can actively contribute to diminishing global greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the demand for plastics perpetuates their production and importation.
The repercussions of plastic on marine species are profound, ranging from tangling and choking to the infiltration of micro-plastics and toxins throughout the food chain, posing a persistent threat to future generations.
The collected plastic waste is either recycled or converted to electricity through incineration. However, some plastics inevitably find their way into the environment, necessitating a concerted effort to address the issue and make littering socially unacceptable.
The Regulations: Banned single-use plastic items
Starting 19 October 2023, the new regulations prohibit the sale, distribution, and supply of the following single-use plastic items:
- Plastic carrier bags
- Straws (with necessary exceptions for medical use)
- Cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks)
- Polystyrene food containers for immediate use
- Polystyrene cups
- Plastic stemmed cotton buds
- Balloon sticks
- Products made from oxo-degradable plastics*
- Manufacture, sale, and distribution of rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads
*oxo-degradable plastics refer to plastics with additives that accelerate their breakdown into smaller pieces, which can be particularly damaging to the environment.
The legislation includes specific exemptions for single-use plastic straws and cotton buds to ensure that individuals with medical or independent living requirements can still access these items. Such items will be available upon request at pharmacies and catering establishments without being openly advertised.
Natural polymers that remain unaltered by chemical modifications are exempt from the ban, as are compostable plastics conforming to British Standard EN 13432.
These Regulations fulfil the policy commitment outlined in 'The Single Use Plastic Reduction Plan' for the Isle of Man Community, specifically aimed at prohibiting the sale, distribution, and supply of specific single-use plastic items.
It is important to note that the regulations focus on banning the supply of these items, not their use. Organisations may face prosecution for distributing or selling prohibited items, but individuals will not be prosecuted for using items that were given or sold to them.
These regulations were formally agreed upon by Tynwald in October 2022 following a period of public consultation, allowing a 12-month grace period before the offenses come into effect, enabling businesses to adapt their practices accordingly.
How businesses can prepare for the ban
To prepare for the new regulations, businesses are advised to:
- Utilise existing stock of single-use plastics before 19th October 2023
- Seek out reusable alternatives to single-use items
- Consider using different materials for single-use items
Failure to comply with the ban and continuing to supply banned single-use plastics after the stipulated date may result in fines.
Encouraging responsible change among businesses
With the impending enforcement of the regulations, we encourage businesses to proactively transition to alternatives, such as reusable items. It is crucial to recognise that simply replacing single-use plastics with items made of alternative materials may still impact the environment and fail to reduce waste. Businesses are encouraged to consider reusables or reintroduce bring-back schemes wherever possible. In cases where reusables are not viable, careful consideration should be given to the selection of single-use substitutes, particularly for packaging that comes into contact with food, which must be 'food grade'.
Businesses can further promote the use of reusables by offering incentives to customers for bringing their own items, such as discounts or loyalty points.
This presents a unique opportunity for businesses to reassess their practices and offer single-use items only when truly essential, resulting in cost savings and a reduced environmental impact. By making this shift from single-use to reusables whenever feasible, we can make a significant positive impact on climate change and the issue of plastic pollution. It is worth noting that the plan to ban all listed items received overwhelming support from the public, with 90% of the 700 residents surveyed in 2022 in agreement, and a strong backing for the banning of additional plastics and single-use items.
Plastic Free: Business Scheme
The Plastic Free Business Scheme showcases businesses that have taken action to become plastic free and is ran in partnership with Beach Buddies and Isle of Man Government.
The Plastic Free Business scheme aims to celebrate businesses that have removed those specific single use items, but also showcase organisations that have made efforts to further reduce other single use plastic items, such as removing sauce sachets, providing water bottle refills or buying concentrated versions of cleaning products to reduce packaging.
Businesses can register as either:
- ‘Supporting’ by removing single use plastic plates, bags, stirrers, straws, cutlery, polystyrene food and beverage containers, plastic stemmed cotton buds, balloon sticks and oxo-degradable plastics
- ‘Plastic-free’ by removing all unnecessary single use plastics from their day to day activities.
Businesses that join the scheme will be presented with certificates and window stickers to display, and provided with support and advice in making practical changes.
5 small steps to join the Plastic Free Business Scheme
- Reduce your single use plastic - Check out our tips on our website
- Make the change
- Register your organisation: email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your pack
- Let Beach Buddies know what items you’ve removed and steps you’ve made to become plastic free to receive a certificate and window sticker
- Display your sticker with pride