Surfrider Foundation Europe calls Italy out on its single-use plastic measures


Italy, like every other European Union Member State, had until July 3rd, 2021 to transpose into its domestic law the European Directive against single-use plastics, passed in 2019. However, the Italian government did not develop sufficient measures to meet the requirements of this new Directive, and has also overlooked some of its major aspects. Let’s focus on the mobilization of Surfrider Foundation Europe alongside with its two Italian chapters – Surfrider Roma and Surfrider Genova – in order to call upon Italy to reason and legality!

What is the European Directive on single-use plastics?

Despite being used only for a very limited time, usually a few minutes, single-use plastics represent 50% of the total amount of marine litter in Europe, thus threatening the environment, economy and human health. To face this challenge, the European Union (EU) passed on June 5, 2019 the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive. This landmark legislation introduces a set of reduction measures targeting single-use plastics, in order to limit their harmful impact on the environment on one hand, and on the other hand, in order to promote the transition to a circular economy. These measures include among others the ban of single-use plastics for which reusable alternatives already exist, and the introduction of a minimum recycled plastic threshold to reach for the production of plastic bottles. 

This European Directive does not include any exemption. In other words: all single-use plastic products are targeted, including both conventional plastics and so-called bioplastics. The bioplastic terminology refers to both bio-based plastics and biodegradable plastics. Their prefix is misleading, since these types of plastics are also harmful to the Ocean. 

Find out more about bioplastics: Bioplastics, a real fake sustainable solution, March 13, 2017, and the full infographic   

The Italian measures are in breach of the Single-Use Plastics Directive  

Leading producer of plastic products in the Mediterranean region, Italy has an extensive coastline, which makes the challenge of coastal and marine protection even more crucial. Nevertheless, Italy’s plastic reduction efforts do not meet the requirements of the European Directive, and are therefore disconnected from the current environmental emergency.

Currently, Italy is on the verge of transposing the Single-Use Plastics Directive into its domestic law. Yet, the country plans to exempt bioplastics from the market restriction measures which apply to the dozens of plastic items targeted by the EU text, despite their threat to the Ocean.

To learn more on the implementation of the Single-Use Plastics directive at the European level: Moving on from single use plastics: How are EU countries doing?, July 1st, 2021. 

Surfrider Europe and its Italian chapters call on Italy to respect the EU environmental law

Under the initiative of its volunteers in Italy, Surfrider Foundation Europe, Surfrider Roma and Surfrider Genova sent an official letter on June 22, 2021 to the Italian Minister of the Environment and to the Italian State Secretary for European Affairs, in order to call Italy to respect its commitment under EU law.

A press release and a mobilization on social networks supplemented this action. Finally, during this month of July, the Rethink Plastic alliance -of which Surfrider Foundation is a founding member- launched an official process to report the Italian measures to the EU authorities. We are still awaiting the authorities' response and we will carry on our commitment to support the full implementation of the Single-Use Plastics Directive at European level. 

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