Inside Track: Planning, Environment & Sustainability - In the media, In practice and courts, Cases and Legislation - Real Estate and Construction

September 2022 – The Czech Republic has adopted
legislation on reducing the environmental impact of selected
plastic products (along with another act amending existing
regulations). The respective acts introduce several types of
measures – in particular a complete ban on certain single-use
plastic items and restrictions on the production of other plastic
products; or granting financial support to municipalities. The acts
implement the EU’s Directive on single-use plastics –
albeit more than one year late.

The new laws enter into force on 1 October 2022; but the various
obligations become effective as of 1 January 2023, or 1 January
2024, or 1 July 2024, respectively – or, in some cases, even
later, such as in 2030.

Please see below the selected key terms in the legislation as of
the date of this update.

Ban on certain single-use plastic items

The Act bans placing on the market or into circulation (meaning
each paid or free-of-charge delivery of such plastic items on the
territory of the Czech Republic for distribution, consumption, or
use after being placed on the market) certain single-use plastic
items, including plastic cotton-tipped earbud sticks (with certain
exceptions), cutlery, plates, straws (with certain exceptions),
beverage stirrers, food containers made of expanded polystyrene
(for immediate single-use food consumption without any further
preparation), beverage containers and drinking cups made of
expanded polystyrene, and products made from oxo-degradable
plastics.

Despite previous legislative proposals, the ban on certain
single-use plastic products will now be effective from 1 October
2022. No transitional period is offered for the sale and use of
remaining stock inventories. This means, for example, that
restaurants will not be permitted to use-up existing stocks of
expanded polystyrene containers after 1 October 2022 for take-away
food packaging.

Special requirements for plastic bottles

Under the new laws, single-use plastic beverage bottles of up to
three litres (made mainly of polyethylene terephthalate) placed on
the market/into circulation will have to be made of 25% of recycled
plastic as of 2025, and of 30% recycled plastic from 2030. From
1July 2024, single-use plastic beverage containers placed on the
market with a volume of up to three litres and that have plastic
lids must have these lids attached to the product itself.

Moreover, those placing single-use plastics beverage bottles of
up to three litres on the market/into circulation are obliged to
attain, in each calendar year, a minimum level of waste collection
of such packaging. This means from January 2025, at least 77% of
the weight of such packaging introduced to the market/into
circulation per given calendar year; and from January 2029, at
least 90%.

Other obligations

The laws also specify new obligations for other plastic items
still in use, in particular:


  • collective systems, compensation for municipalities:

The laws strengthen the so-called extended responsibility of
producers
principle (or persons placing such on the
market/into circulation) for selected plastic waste. This covers,
for example, filter-containing tobacco products, wet wipes,
plastics bags, beverage containers of volumes up to three litres,
and food containers. All such producers will have to compensate
municipalities for product waste clean-up costs related to waste
disposed outside of designated collection sites, and for the
subsequent transport and processing costs and, additionally, also
for waste collection costs associated with certain products within
the municipal waste management system.

Cooperation between most producers and municipalities may be
managed via collective systems, through which municipalities will
receive financial contributions.


  • information obligations and educational activities:

Producers placing plastic items, such as wet wipes,
filter-containing tobacco products, and sanitary pads on the market
will have additional information obligations, including to inform
consumers how to properly dispose of these products.

Moreover, producers (or persons placing on the market/into
circulation) certain plastic items such as sanitary pads,
filler-containing tobacco products, plastic bags, or food
containers, must organise educational and awareness-raising
activities, for example educational campaigns to increase public
awareness concerning recycling and the consequences of the improper
disposal of plastic items. Certain producers will be able to fulfil
such obligations by concluding contracts with collective system
operators.

The two acts also introduce a number of other obligations
– the full language is available here and here.

Potential issues

Certain provisions (obligations) under these acts could be
interpreted as lacking clarity – and thus concrete rules may
evolve based on established practice by the administrative
authorities. For example, a ban on placing on the market or into
circulation food containers made of expanded polystyrene does not
specify whether it also applies to products made from extruded
polystyrene expanded during the manufacturing process. Under the
new laws, fines for infringements range from CZK 500,000 (approx.
EUR 20,354) to up to CZK 10,000,000 (approx. EUR 407,083).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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