Marking beverage cups

New marking requirement for disposable plastic beverage cups

From July 3, 2021, “cups for beverages” that are placed on the market in the EU will be required to bear an informative marking in accordance with the Single-Use Plastics Directive (Directive (EU) 2019/904). This is a specific symbol in a particular shape, size, and color, with text in the language of the country in which the cup is being marketed.

Directive (EU) 2019/904 requires marking for certain disposable plastic items that are often disposed of improperly. This marking is intended to inform consumers about the presence of plastic in the product as well as the negative impacts of littering resulting from inappropriate disposal of the product.

At the moment, it is not possible to say with absolute certainty which beverage cups are covered by the marking requirement – in particular, because the European Commission has not yet released guidelines on the applicability of the Single-Use Plastics Directive. However, we assume that the specifications are to be broadly interpreted. This would mean that they encompass not only disposable beverage cups for on-the-go consumption (e.g., for concerts, festivals, soccer stadiums, in-flight catering, coffee to go) but also disposable beverage cups that come filled in supermarkets (e.g., cups with coffee, buttermilk, yogurt drinks). Some uncertainty also remains regarding exactly how products are to be marked, as the Commission has not yet revised the German implementing regulation as had previously been announced.

At Greiner Packaging, we have good reason to give our customers early notice of this directive, especially since the time frame for implementing the new symbols is relatively short. We ask that our clients take the appropriate initial steps now in order to ensure that the planned design changes can be made to the symbols on the various packaging products and to keep production and delivery running on time. As ever, our our teams at our plants will be happy to support our clients with this process.

From COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) 2020/2151

Click here to view the current specifications regarding the markings’ size, shape, graphical format, and color scheme.

Plastic in ProductBeverage cups made partly from plastic must bear the following printed marking in the relevant local language.

The marking on beverage cups made partly from plastic placed on the market before July 4, 2021, may be affixed by means of stickers.

Beverage cups made wholly from plastic must bear the following printed marking or the following engraved/embossed marking in the relevant local language.

The marking on beverage cups made wholly from plastic placed on the market before July 4, 2021, may be affixed by means of stickers.

Made of plastic

Position and placement of the marking

The marking must be placed horizontally on the external surface of the cup in a clearly visible place away from the rim.

From the European Commission’s guidelines (as of February 2021)

As of February 2021, the European Commission’s relevant guidelines contain the following additional, explanatory information on disposable plastic products:

Products

  • that are made wholly or partly of plastic.
  • in which polymers can function as a main structural component of final products.
  • that are not conceived to accomplish within their life span multiple trips or rotations (e.g., by means of refilling or reuse).

Beverage cups are designed as small, round, usually bowl-shaped drinking vessels with or without lids or aluminum tops, which are sold empty or contain drinks.

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