Netherlands to reduce single-use plastics in the workplace

Cropped view of barista holding brown disposable cup - Source: HayDmitriy at DepositPhotos - License: Deposit Photos

The Netherlands plans to reduce single-use plastic items in the office space significantly. From 2023, disposable coffee cups will be banned. And from 2024, canteens will have to charge extra for plastic packaging on ready-made food, State Secretary Steven van Weyenberg of Environment said in a letter to parliament, Trouw reports.

Starting on 1 January 2023, coffee cups in the office must be washable, or at least 75 percent of the disposable ones must be collected for recycling. Like with plates and cups in the catering industry, coffee cups in the office can be washed and reused or replaced with reusable alternatives, the State Secretary said to parliament.

And from 2024, disposable packaging on ready-to-eat meals will come with an extra charge. This additional charge is unnecessary if the packaging is reusable or the meal is packed into a container the customer brought along. The exact amount of the extra charge is still to be determined.

Van Weyenberg expects that these measures will reduce single-use plastics by 40 percent.

The State Secretary distinguishes between packaging for consumption on-site, such as coffee cups for the vending machine at the office, and packaging for takeaways and delivery meals or coffee on the go. Single-use items are banned in the case of on-the-spot consumption unless the office, snack bar, or shop provides a separate collection for high-quality recycling. A minimum of 75 percent must be collected for recycling, and that will increase by 5 percent per year to 90 percent in 2026. For on-the-go consumption, the seller must offer a reusable alternative – either cups and storage boxes that the buyer brings or a return system for recycling. Here 75 percent must be collected in 2024, rising to 90 percent in 2027.

These measures form part of the Netherlands’ implementation of the European Directive on single-use plastics. Other measures that are part of this directive include a ban on plastic cutlery, plates, and stirrers implemented in July, a deposit on small plastic bottles, and a deposit on cans that will take effect on the last day of 2022.


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