From 19 October 2023 the supply of specified single use plastics will be ended within the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man was one of the first places in the British Isles to bring in legislation to ban all the items listed under the EU Plastics Directive, leading the fight against plastic pollution alongside jurisdictions such as Scotland.
Single use plastics represent an unsustainable use of oil, which is a finite resource. Many local businesses and organisations have already made the choice to remove unnecessary single use plastic items from their premises. Using single use plastic is unnecessary as alternatives are available. Reducing our use of these items can contribute to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The demand we create from plastics keeps driving production and imports of such goods.
Plastics cause direct impacts on marine species, such as tangling and choking, but they also break down to micro-plastic and toxins are infiltrating all levels of the food chain, creating a problem which may impact on generations well into the future.
The plastic waste that is collected is either recycled or burnt to turn the energy it contains into electricity. However some plastics do find their way into the environment and it is important to tackle this issue and make littering socially unacceptable.
What items are being banned under the regulations?
From 19 October 2023, the new regulations prohibit the sale, distribution and supply of the following single-use plastic items:
- plastic carrier bags (with handles)
- straws (with necessary exceptions i.e. 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 that contain plastic micro beads
*oxodegradable are plastic with an additive that makes it break down into smaller pieces of plastic quicker, which is particularly damaging if it gets into the environment.
This means businesses and charities cannot sell or give out these items.
The legislation includes exemptions for single-use plastic straws and cotton buds, to make sure that those who need them for independent living or medical purposes can still get access to them. Such items will be available at pharmacies and catering establishments on request but not advertised.
Natural polymers that have not been chemically modified are exempt, as is compostable plastic which conforms to British Standard EN 13432.
These Regulations deliver the policy commitment in 'The Single Use Plastic Reduction Plan' for the Isle of Man Community, to prohibit the sale, distribution and supply of specific single use plastic items.
The regulations ban supply, not use. Organisations can be prosecuted for giving out or selling banned items, but individuals will not be prosecuted for using an item they've been given or sold.
These regulations were agreed at Tynwald in October 2022, following public consultation, allowing a 12 month period before offences come into play, so that businesses using such items, could adapt their practices.
How BUSINESSES CAN prepare for the ban
You can prepare your business for the new rules by:
- using up existing stock before 19 October 2023
- finding re-usable alternatives to single-use items
- using different materials for single-use items
If you continue to supply banned single use plastics after 19 October 2023, you could be fined.
There are some exemptions to the ban, depending on the item which you can read more about in the Guidance here.
HOW businesses CAN MAKE THE CHANGE
Now that the regulations are coming into force, we would encourage businesses to be proactive and start shifting to alternatives (such as reusable items). When switching to single-use plastics substitutes, businesses should consider this:
- Banning single-use plastic items can be a big win for our living home.
- However, simply switching to other single-use items made of alternative materials can still have an impact on the environment and it doesn't reduce waste.
- Businesses may consider reusables or bring back schemes and how these could fit into their operations and where this is not possible, ensure that single-use substitutes are carefully considered. For example, any replacement packaging that comes into contact with food, needs to be 'food grade'.
Swapping to reusables won’t suit everyone’s business model, but there are ways you can help to promote the use of reusables, for example providing incentives for customers to bring their own (discount, loyalty points etc.)
This is an opportunity for businesses to think differently and only offer single-use items where absolutely essential, making cost savings and reducing the impact on our planet - helping to tackle climate change and end plastic pollution.
We can make the most positive impact reducing our by shifting from single-use to reusables wherever possible and there are high levels of public support for this shift. In 2022, 700 residents shared their views on the plan with 90% agreeing all items should be axed. There was further support for more plastics and single-use items to be banned.
Ban on supply of Single Use Plastics for businesses in the Isle of Man
coming into effect on 19 October 2023
The Regulations provided a year’s transitional period, to allow businesses and charities to use up existing stock. Hopefully you will be coming to the end of your supplies as the date of the ban get closer.
From 19 October 2023, you will no longer be able to sell or supply any of the listed items.
You can retain them for personal use or dispose of them responsibly, through the correct waste stream - you should recycle them if possible and ensure they do not enter the environment.
Choosing the right alternative for your business or charity is up to you, but here are some ideas:
- reusable items
- items made from compostable or renewable materials such as paper, card or wood
Speak to your supplier for ideas and beware of greenwashing - if you’re not sure if a product complies with the regulations, ask your supplier directly.
You will no longer be able to supply single use plastic carrier bags in the Isle of Man (i.e. bags with handles) from 19th October 2023. ‘Bags for life’ of 50 to 70 microns and fulfilling the minimum size criteria, are exempt, as are heavyweight plastic bags (which we consider to be those of greater than 70 microns thick). Plastic bags that are distributed must not be made from oxo-degradable plastic. However, natural polymers that have not been chemically modified, and compostable plastics (BS EN 13432) are exempt from the Regulations and there are some other specific exemptions (see Schedule 2 Part 1 of the Regulations) including woven plastic bags.
Catering establishments and Retail pharmacy businesses may supply single use plastic straws on request but must not display or advertise them – note this is to ensure those who have access or disability needs have access to these items.
There is no requirement for customers to prove that they require a straw due to medical restrictions. If a customer requests a straw then businesses can provide one.
Alternatives to plastic straws can be provided, but consideration for alternatives must be considered and if they are supplied with a drink. For instance, pasta straws may be unsuitable to those who have a gluten allergy. The customer may not necessarily make this known if ordering a drink.
The supply of single use plastic straws that are packaging or come as part of the packaging of a drink not prohibited by the Regulations and can continue to be sold.
Cups made from (expanded) polystyrene or oxo-degradable plastic are prohibited by the ban.
The likes of the clear plastic drinking cups and an unexpanded polystyrene cup is not a ‘prohibited single use plastic item’ as only cups of expanded polystyrene are covered by the Schedule 1 list in the Regulations. Where an expanded polystyrene cup is provided, then the Regulations extend to the covers and lids.
The only exception to this is if they are made from oxo-degradable plastic, as defined in Schedule 1, as ‘products made from plastic materials that include additives which, through oxidation, lead to the fragmentation of the plastic material into microfragments or to chemical decomposition’ – products made from oxo-degradable plastic are within the list of ‘prohibited single use plastic items’ which comes into force in October 2023.
Please note, however, that the intention of the government plans is to encourage the removal of unnecessary single use plastic items from use so please consider whether there are more sustainable options to offer than single use plastic cups.
We have some resources and guides linked above on reusables.
Under the single use plastics plans we encourage everyone to replace unnecessary single use plastics with more sustainable products where they can.
However, if your food containers are not made from polystyrene or oxo-degradable plastic, then they are not covered by the Regulations, and may therefore continue to be used.
Under the Regulations, polystyrene food containers are:
'Food containers made of expanded polystyrene with or without a cover, used to contain food which —
(a) is intended for immediate consumption, either on-the-spot or take-away;
(b) is typically consumed from the receptacle; and
(c) is ready to be consumed without any further preparation, including food containers used for fast food or other meals ready for immediate consumption, except beverage containers, plates and packets and wrappers containing food.'
The Regulations define plastic with the ‘exception of natural polymers that have not been chemically modified’ and they also exclude “compostable plastic” which is defined as’ plastic which conforms to BS EN 13432 Requirements for packaging recoverable through composting and biodegradation – Test scheme and evaluation criteria for the final acceptance of packaging’.
Please note also the ban does apply on the distribution of single use plastic cutlery, plates and bowls (a plate or bowl from which food is eaten or served that is made wholly or partly from plastic and that is not designed or intended to be re-used).
At this time compostable plastic items are not banned under the regulations, however to be deemed a ‘compostable plastic” the material must be certified to the standard of BS EN 13432.
As such not all products labelled ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ will be exempt from the Regulations and businesses are asked to discuss a product’s suitability with their supplier.
The biodegradation process depends on various factors and can vary depending on material type, which is why products must be certified to standard BS EN 13432 to ensure materials will biodegrade effectively.
Note, carrier bags prohibited under the regulations have handles. Therefore any bags, like those supplied at supermarkets usually without handles to avoid cross contamination of meat and other goods are not included in the ban at this time.
DEFA will seek to work with business and charities to help them achieve compliance.
If a business or charity fails to make changes, the Department can enforce Civil Sanctions. This can be in the form of an Enforcement Notice (a list of required actions) or a Monetary Penalty (a fine).
In both those cases the business or charity has the opportunity to agree suitable actions or changes which will address the issue and may avoid the penalty by doing so.
For more information on non-compliance please read from page 6 of the Regulations Guidance document.