Ban on single-use plastic cutlery in the EU

01/03/2021 | 3 min read
Konrad Wasserbauer

This ban is currently being implemented in the national legislation of the European Union’s member states. Starting on July 3, 2021, it will thus be illegal to place disposable plastic cutlery on the market throughout the European Union. As a packaging and disposable cutlery manufacturer, we at Greiner Packaging therefore want to provide clarity about what this will mean in practice and what will be changing from July 2021.

At Greiner Packaging, this ban specifically concerns the PS and PP cutlery series, which until now have been mainly included in food packaging or otherwise integrated in the respective product. Since cutlery made from recycled plastic is also subject to the ban, we are only able to offer one alternative product at this time – our new, folding cardboard spoon for consumption of dairy, deli, and specialty products, which can be integrated right into the lid of the packaging.

Smart, practical, and 100 percent recyclable: The new, fold-out cardboard spoon, which is inserted into an r-PET lid, will continue to comply with EU law even after July 3, 2021.

What will happen to existing inventory?

We expect that it will still be possible to use up existing stocks of disposable plastic cutlery after July 3, 2021. A short transition period is currently anticipated until the directive is implemented by the national competent authorities from summer 2021. From then on, Greiner Packaging will only supply folding cardboard spoons to its customers. For non-EU markets, PP and PS cutlery will continue to be produced and supplied if desired, starting at a certain minimum order quantity. Other sustainable alternatives have yet to prove truly viable on the market. Nevertheless, Greiner Packaging is working on other environmentally friendly cutlery solutions and provides regular updates about their market readiness.

Sustainable solutions – today and in the future

Environmental protection and sustainability play an important role for Greiner. As well as providing the most user-friendly solutions possible, our company’s ambition is also to focus on sustainability factors, such as the reusability and recyclability of our products as part of a circular economy. Our business has stood for innovative and pioneering packaging solutions for decades – and continues to work toward this each and every day. If customers have any questions about this topic or any specific details, they are welcome to get in touch with their usual contacts at any time to arrange a one-on-one chat.

Background information on the topic

The ban on single-use plastic cutlery in EU member states from July 3, 2021, is governed by the European Commission’s guidelines (as of February 2021). The relevant prohibitions apply only to certain single-use plastic products, which are few in number and exhaustively listed in the directive, such as disposable plastic cutlery.

As of February 2021, the European Commission’s guidelines contain the following additional, explanatory information:


  • that are made wholly or partly of plastic.
  • in which polymers can function as a main structural component of final products.
  • that are not conceived to accomplish within their life span multiple trips or rotations (e.g., by means of refilling or reuse).

Cutlery and drinking straws, which are to be classified as single-use plastic products, will be prohibited even if they are attached to or inside a food or beverage container.

The bans also apply to fiber-based composite packaging containing plastic and plastic-coated paper/cardboard products if the plastic can be regarded as the “main structural component” of the product. This would be the case, for example, with a water-repellent and/or grease-repellent coating. The directive does not specify a minimum proportion of plastic content in the product.

Materials made from natural polymers that have not been chemically modified are exempt from the EU bans.


Greiner Packaging does not offer legal advice – it assesses the impact of legislation on the markets in which it operates. This article therefore reflects our current state of knowledge.

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