The Catalan executive has adopted a resolution to reduce the use of single-use plastic containers and other items (cutlery, plates, cups, straws, stirrers, balloon sticks, etc.) in units of its ministries and public-sector bodies, and at events organised by them. Reusable products – made of glass, metal or materials such as paper, wood or compostable plastic – must now be used whenever possible.
Although the resolution does not apply to contracts for meal and catering services or vending machines in health centres and prisons, contracting bodies will be required to apply the rules set out in an official guide on greening of canteens. Products for personal consumption by staff are also excluded, but it is recommended that disposable plastic products not be used in the workplace.
Public procurement measures
Steps will also be taken to reduce the use of disposable products through measures related to public procurement. Specifications for the procurement of meal and catering services will include an environmental clause prohibiting the supply of drinks in single-use plastic containers and the use of single-use plastic containers, cutlery, plates, cups, stirrers and similar items. The new rules will mean using alternative systems whenever possible. Options include jugs, dispensers, deposit and return systems, or the use of alternative materials, such as glass, metal, paper, wood or compostable plastic.
Specifications for the award of contracts to operate vending machines will stipulate that single-use plastic cups and stirrers may not be dispensed. As for drinks in single-use plastic containers, it is recommended that their use be limited to vending machine sales. For water, if single-use plastic containers are used, the recommendation is to use large bottles (one litre or more).
Beyond EU regulations
Catalan government ministries and public-sector bodies must provide drinking fountains or water coolers in the workplace for use by employees and visitors. At meetings and public events organised by these bodies, participants and speakers are not to be given drinks in single-use plastic containers or other single-use plastic items.
The adoption of the resolution anticipates the transposition of an EU directive aimed at reducing the environmental impact of certain plastic products, which restricts the use of single-use plastics in a series of items. In making some requirements mandatory now, the measures adopted by the Catalan government go beyond those envisaged in the directive, reducing the environmental impact of single-use plastics and raising public awareness of the problems they cause.