Since the European Parliament and the Council adopted directive (EU) 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain single-use products on the environment, the member states have been working on implementing the directive. Sweden has now implemented the directive and included additional national measures for the sustainable use of single-use products through the Swedish Regulation on single-use products. As of January 1, 2024, amendments to the Swedish Regulation will enter into force imposing obligations on companies selling fast food and beverage in single-use products. As a result, organisations need to start its evaluations and preparations.
There are two key obligations in the Swedish Regulation:
1) Provide reusable alternatives and introduce a reusable system
A company who supplies fast food or beverage in single-use products to consumers must offer its consumers the possibility to receive the fast food or beverage in a reusable item. The reusable item must have the least negative impact on people’s health and on the environment and must be offered regardless of whether the consumer orders take away or eats at the point of sale.
Companies bound by the abovementioned obligation to provide reusable alternatives are also obliged to take efficient measures to ensure that the reusable items rotate several times in a system so that they can be reused. However, the obligations do not apply to single-use products that consists entirely of paper or cardboard that has not been chemically modified in a way that slows down degradation. As of now, it remains to be seen what type of reusable system that will be applicable in Sweden.
2) Provide information to the consumers
Companies covered by the legislation must at the point of sale inform the consumers of:
- the possibility to receive the fast food or beverage served in a reusable food box or cup,
- the environmental impact which the use of single-use food boxes and cups give rise to,
- the advantages of a reduced consumption of single-use food boxes and cups, and
- the information must be easy-accessible for consumers and be visible at the point of sale.
Which companies are covered by the obligations?
Organisations operating in professional business in which they supply fast food in single-use boxes or beverage in single-use cups are covered by the regulation. Hence, a variety of businesses can be bound by the new obligations such as restaurants, grocery stores, and food trucks. A company’s size or whether it offers take away are not decisive for the applicability of the regulation.
Furthermore, the obligations only apply to companies supplying fast food or beverage in 150 or more single-use food boxes or single-use cups per day on average. Companies that are excluded from the obligations due to the supply being less than 150 per day must have routines in place to ensure that no more than 150 single-use food boxes and single-use cups are supplied per day on average. The quantity supplied should be calculated as an average over the days that the point of sale is open during the calendar year. However, as of the 1st of January 2026 the amount of 150 single-use products will be amended and lowered to the amount of 75 single-use products on average.
A company that is established with several point of sales will need to comply with the obligation for each point of sale separately. In other words, an assessment of each point of sale is required to conclude whether a particular point of sale meets the requirements and hence are covered by the obligations.
Failure to comply with the obligation to provide reusable alternatives may result in environmental penalty fees, bad-will and other negative economic effects to the company.
What should your organisation do to prepare?
- Delegate the responsibility to a function or a group with the necessary expertise,
- Review, evaluate and assess whether the business will be bound by the new obligations; if yes, a) Provide the necessary resources and budget, b) Prepare for the implementation of a reusable system, c) Assess what the best reusable alternative product is for the company.