Single-use plastics (SUP)

Some single use plastic (SUP) products are subject to product restrictions or marking requirements and other responsibilities. Certain product groups may be subject to several requirements. This page provides information about valid product restrictions and marking requirements.

Product restrictions

The placing on the market of the following disposable products made wholly or partly from plastic has been prohibited in Finland starting from 23 August 2021:

  • cotton bud sticks
  • cutlery
  • plates
  • straws
  • beverage stirrers
  • sticks to be attached to and to support balloons
  • food containers made of expanded polystyrene, i.e. receptacles such as boxes, with or without a cover, used to contain food which:
    • is intended for immediate consumption, either on-the-spot or take-away,
    • is typically consumed from the receptacle, and
    • is ready to be consumed without any further preparation, such as cooking, boiling or heating.
  • beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, including their caps and lids
  • cups for beverages made of expanded polystyrene, including their covers and lids
  • all products made from oxo-degradable plastic.

If plastic straws and cotton bud sticks are used for medical purposes, it may be possible to place them on the market as medical devices after 23 August 2021. More information about legislation on medical devices is available on the website of the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea.

The requirements laid down in the directive require a national legislation. In Finland, the implementation of the national legislation has been delayed. As a result, schedules for placing on the market differ in the national legislation and the directive.

Marking requirements

From 23 August 2021, the following products made wholly or partly from plastic placed on the market must be furnished with markings in accordance with the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2151:

  • sanitary towels (pads), tampons and tampon applicators
  • wet wipes, i.e., pre-wetted personal care and domestic wipes
  • tobacco products with filters
  • filters marketed for use in combination with tobacco products
  • cups for beverages.

Tobacco products with filters must carry the marking on the unit packet and outside packaging.

Beverage cups must bear either a printed, engraved or embossed marking on the cup.

A unit packet is the packaging in which a product is sold to consumers. A grouped packaging is conceived so as to constitute a grouping of unit packets. For example, a unit packet is a packaging in which ten individual sanitary towels or wet wipes have been packaged. A cardboard packaging in which unit packets of sanitary towels or wet wipes are kept on a store shelf is a grouped packaging.

With regard to tobacco products with filters, the Implementing Regulation refers to the legislation on tobacco products. According to the Tobacco Act (549/2016):

  • A unit packet means the smallest individual packaging of a tobacco product or any other product referred to in this Act that is placed on the market (section 2, subsection 31). For example, a cigarette pack made from paperboard.
  • Outside packaging means any packaging in which tobacco products or other products referred to in this Act are placed on the market and which includes a unit packet or an aggregation of unit packets; however, the transparent wrappers of unit packets are not regarded as outside packaging (Tobacco Act section 2, subsection 32). For example, a carton of cigarettes.

The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) monitors the markings required for tobacco products in the SUP legislation. In Finland, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health Valvira and municipalities monitor compliance with the Tobacco Act’s provisions on unit packets of tobacco products.

The marking requirements apply to products placed on the market in Finland starting from 23 August 2021. The marking can be affixed with a sticker to products placed on the market before 4 July 2022.

Regarding markings, the Commission Implementing Regulation defines that the marking requirements apply to products placed on the market starting from 3 July 2021. The Implementing Regulation is part of the directly applicable EU law. The implementation of the regulation requires national legislation in Finland (the Waste Act and the Government decree on certain plastic products), which lays down, for example, the party responsible for affixing markings. As the national legislation has been delayed, the date set in the Commission Implementing Regulation for product markings cannot be applied.

Who is responsible for affixing markings?

In Finland, the manufacturer, the party placing a product on the market, or the distributor is responsible for affixing markings. Products placed on the market before 23 August 2021 do not need to be marked. For further information, see “FAQ”.

What does the marking need to be like?

Every product group that needs to be marked has a separate marking. Images of markings for cups of beverages as an example.

Plastic in product.

Plastic in product

Made of plastic.

Made of plastic

Made of plastic.

Made of plastic

The Implementing Regulation includes images of markings for cups of beverages. A coloured marking must be printed on cups of beverages that are made partly from plastic. The correct marking must be printed, engraved or embossed on cups of beverages made wholly from plastic.

The marking consists of an image and an information box and text below the image to indicate that there is plastic in the product. In Finland, the information text must be in Finnish and Swedish.

More detailed marking requirements are laid down in the Implementing Regulation. The marking must address requirements that concern the position, size, design of the marking and the font type and size of the text. Check the requirements that apply to your product group in the Implementing Regulation.

The definition of plastic

In the SUP legislation, plastic means a material consisting of a polymer as defined in the REACH regulation, to which additives or other substances may have been added, and which can function as a main structural component of final products. Natural polymers that are considered to be the result of a polymerisation process that has taken place in nature and have not been chemically modified are not within the scope of application of the SUP directive.

The SUP legislation covers plastics made of modified natural polymers. It also applies to plastics made of bio-based, fossil or synthetic starting substances. The legislation also covers biodegradable plastics and polymer-based rubber items. However, paints, inks and adhesives as polymeric materials fall outside the scope of application of the definition of plastic in accordance with the SUP legislation.

Usually, polymers resulting from an industrial process are defined as modified polymers even if they occur in nature. This means that polymers resulting from biosynthesis through man-made cultivation and fermentation processes in industrial settings, e.g., polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and polylactides (PLA), are considered modified natural polymers.

Polymers which are the result of a polymerisation process that has taken place in nature and have been extracted from nature for further processing are considered natural polymers. For example, cellulose and lignin extracted from wood and cereals directly meet the definition of a natural polymer. A chemical comparison between starting substances and end products is used as a criterion. Therefore, viscose regenerated from cellulose is considered a natural polymer. This is why viscose, lyocell and cellulosic film are not within the scope of application of the directive. Cellulose acetate is considered to be chemically modified and a plastic because the chemical modifications taken place during the production process remain present in the end product.

Concepts related to the definition of plastic are clarified in Commission guidelines (SUP guidelines) issued at the beginning of June 2021.

Definition of a single-use plastic product

An SUP product is a product that is made wholly or partly from plastic and that is not conceived, designed or placed on the market to accomplish, within its life span, multiple trips or rotations by being returned to a producer for refill or re-used for the same purpose for which it was conceived.

The disposability of a product can be assessed by examining the product’s expected service life and consumers’ experience in the product’s reusability.

The assessment covers the following: 

  • Is the product intended and designed to be used several times without risk to the integrity of the product?
  • Do consumers consider the product to be reusable? 
  • Do consumers use the product similarly to a reusable product? 

The assessment of disposability is also affected by the product material, its washability and reparability, and whether the product properties enable the multiple use of the product for a single purpose. 

For example, the EU Commission’s unofficial interpretations on the SUP legislation includes interpretations on plastic cutlery made in accordance with EN 12875-1-2005 (Mechanical dishwashing resistance of utensils).  As they can be washed 25 times in a dishwasher, they can be considered to have been designed for multiple uses without losing their effectiveness and properties. Typically, consumers also regard this type of cutlery as reusable products.

If an SUP product is a packaging, instructions for assessing its disposability are provided in legislation on packaging and packaging waste. If an SUP product is within the scope of application of the SUP legislation and legislation on packaging and packaging waste, the product must conform to requirements laid down in both directives. If these directives are in conflict, the SUP legislation will apply.

Requirements laid down in the SUP directive only apply to SUP products that are not considered to be packaging, even though they may have similar purposes or properties as packaging.

Placing on the market and making available on the market in the SUP directive

‘Making available on the market’ means any supply of a product for distribution, consumption or use on the Finnish market in the course of a commercial activity, whether in return for payment or free of charge. ‘Placing on the market’ means the first making available of a product on the Finnish market.

If an operator has business operations in another EU member state, the company must verify the member state’s legislation separately. In the SUP legislation, placing on the market always takes place in the member state in question, unlike in several other laws.

Background of the legislation

The goal of the SUP legislation is to prevent and reduce the volume of plastic waste in the environment, particularly in the aquatic environment. Another goal is to promote the transition to the circular economy. The national legislation is based on directive (EU) 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment.

Plastic accounts for roughly 80 per cent of all beach litter in the EU. The product groups to which the requirements laid down in the legislation apply have been selected based on an EU study on beach litter. The Ministry of Environment also assigned a study on the composition of Finnish beach litter. The study showed that Finnish beaches are littered with cigarette butts that are within the scope of the SUP legislation.

The aim is to achieve the goals set for the legislation through different measures, such as actions to reduce national consumption, product restrictions, product design and marking requirements, and an extended producer responsibility. The selected measures depend on the product group, and a product group may have several requirements.

While the national implementation of the directive is still in progress, product restrictions and marking requirements apply to certain product groups from 23 August 2021. Tukes monitors product restrictions and marking requirements. Furthermore, the monitoring of the requirement for caps remaining tethered to bottles has also been planned for Tukes. The monitoring of other requirements laid down in the directive has been planned for the Pirkanmaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre), which is the national supervisory authority for producer responsibility. Further information about the preparation of the legislation is available on the Ministry of the Environment's website.

Frequently asked questions