Study #: 3812 | Published: 03/2020 | Pages: 106 | Individual User License: US$ 2,900

Single-use – also known as disposable – plastics face a number of concerns regarding the appropriate use of natural resources, the challenges of proper disposal, and a growing litter problem on land, along coasts, and in the oceans and other bodies of water.

While governments and people across the globe have historically been reluctant to address these issues, that has been changing in recent years. A dramatic increase in the regulation of single-use plastics – e.g., plastic retail bags, plastic straws and stirrers, take-out containers and cups made from foamed and rigid plastic, plastic cutlery – worldwide has caused uncertainty among suppliers, providers, and end users.

Understanding how various countries and regions see the problem, how they attempt to solve the problem, and what the transition periods look like around the world will help businesses better plan for the coming changes.

How to Attack the Problem of Single-Use Plastic Waste?

Although many have accepted the need to reduce the use of single-use plastics, countries are still debating the best way to do that. Common strategies include:

  • Voluntary efforts – some business establishments and organizations take the step to voluntarily stop providing these items for free or at all.
  • Taxes or fees – often an early step to ease the public into accepting other forms of packaging and to give businesses time to develop suitable alternatives.
  • Bans – often the last step taken if voluntary measures or taxes and fees do not achieve the desired results.

Still others choose to concentrate on the litter end of the problem by instead improving their waste infrastructure with better collection practices and more opportunities for recycling.

However, in many cases, particularly island nations and others with limited space for landfills, plans are increasingly shifting from expanding recycling to opting for reusable alternatives and reducing single-use plastic consumption altogether.

Factors Behind the Regulations

In many cases, governments consider regulations when the problem of excessive plastic waste becomes visible and results in public outcry. For instance:

  • Coastal nations see large amounts of plastic waste along their shores, harming both fishing and tourism industries.
  • Shortcomings with local waste disposal practices – e.g., a lack of or insufficient formal waste disposal infrastructure, a garbage removal strike – result in plastic litter being seen where it had not been previously.
  • Viral videos and news events show marine animals being harmed by large amounts of plastic waste.
  • There is greater public awareness of microplastics in our water, in our food, and in ourselves.

Some areas – particularly lower income countries – are limiting and eliminating disposable plastic items out of need: ecology for economy’s sake. A culture of reuse, even for plastic bags and other items that wealthier countries might generally view as disposable, can limit single-use plastic waste.


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Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

2. What Are Single-Use Plastics?

Scope & Definition

Straws

Stirrers

Beverage & Portion Cups

Lids

Retail Bags

Produce & Bakery Bags

Takeout Containers

Clamshells & Two-Piece Containers

Rigid Plastic

Plastic Foam

Food Wrap

Cutlery

Beverage Carrier Rings

3. Pros & Cons of Single-Use Plastics

Issues with Single-Use Plastics

Litter & Microplastics

Landfill & Incineration

Lack of Recycling & Use of Non-Renewable Resources

Benefits of Single-Use Plastics

Alternatives to Single-Use Plastics

Reusable Plastics

Paper

Wood & Metal

Natural Fibers

Molded Pulp

4. Regulations

Bans & Fees

Preemptions

The Success & Unintended Consequences of Bans

5. North America

United States

United States: Single-Use Bag Regulations

United States: Foamed Plastic Foodservice Container Regulations

United States: Plastic Straw Regulations

Canada

Mexico

6. Europe

European Union

Non-European Union

7. Other Regions

Africa

Middle East

Asia/Pacific

Central & South America

8. Appendix

Scope

Definitions

Abbreviations

Freedonia Methodology

Study-Specific Methodology

Sources

Associations & Agencies

Related Studies & Reports

Macroeconomic Assumptions

Global Economic Outlook

Global Population

Global Personal Consumption Expenditures


List of Tables

5. North America

Table 5-1 | US State Retail Bag Regulations by Year Implemented & Type

Table 5-2 | Canada Single-Use Plastic Packaging Bans by Year Implemented

Table 5-3 | Mexico Single-Use Plastic Packaging Bans by Year Implemented

6. Europe

Table 6-1 | European Union Single-Use Plastic Packaging Bans by Regulations by Year Implemented & Type

Table 6-2 | Non-European Union Single-Use Plastic Packaging Regulations by Year Implemented & Type

7. Other Regions

Table 7-1 | Africa Single-Use Plastic Packaging Regulations by Year Implemented & Type

Table 7-2 | Middle East Single-Use Plastic Packaging Regulations by Year Implemented & Type

Table 7-3 | Asia/Pacific Single-Use Plastic Packaging Regulations by Year Implemented & Type

Table 7-4 | Central & South America Single-Use Plastic Packaging Regulations by Year Implemented & Type

8. Appendix

Table 8-1 | Relevant Industry Codes

Table 8-2 | Relevant HS Codes

Table 8-3 | Abbreviations & Acronyms Used in Study

Table 8-4 | Global Gross Domestic Product by Region & Country, 2008 - 2023 (billion 2017 dollars)

Table 8-5 | Global Population by Region & Country, 2008 - 2023 (million persons)

Table 8-6 | Global Personal Consumption Expenditures by Region & Country, 2008 - 2023 (billion 2017 dollars)


List of Figures

2. What Are Single-Use Plastics?

Figure 2-1 | Single-Use Plastic Straws: Key Markets & Competitive Products

Figure 2-2 | Single-Use Plastic Stirrers: Key Markets & Competitive Products

Figure 2-3 | Single-Use Plastic Beverage & Portion Cups: Key Markets & Competitive Products

Figure 2-4 | Single-Use Plastic Lids: Key Markets & Competitive Products

Figure 2-5 | Single-Use Plastic Retail Bags: Key Markets & Competitive Products

Figure 2-6 | Single-Use Plastic Produce & Bakery Bags: Key Markets & Competitive Products

Figure 2-7 | Single-Use Plastic Takeout Containers: Key Markets & Competitive Products

Figure 2-8 | Single-Use Plastic Food Wrap: Key Markets & Competitive Materials

Figure 2-9 | Single-Use Plastic Cutlery: Key Markets & Competitive Products

Figure 2-10 | Single-Use Plastic Beverage Carrier Rings: Key Markets & Competitive Products

8. Appendix

Figure 8-1 | Retail Bags


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