Following publication of the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2151 last year, the EU Commission published Commission guidelines on single-use plastic products in accordance with Directive (EU) 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. The Guidelines provide clarification on product description, criteria and exemptions in the Single Use Plastics Directive.
According to the Guidelines, a wet wipe is considered to be a small piece of pre-moistened or pre-wetted material containing plastic and which is conceived, designed and placed on the market for single-use (disposable) and intended for personal care e.g. personal hygiene or domestic use e.g. household cleaning purposes.
It is also explained that pre-wetted wipes typically contain an impregnation liquid which has been added to the wipe before it is placed on the market.
Examples of such products:
- Baby wipes
- Cleansing wipes for skin (including hands and body)
- Disinfection wipes
- Facial/cosmetic wipes (e.g. facial masks or” sheet masks”, face cleaning/make-up removal wipes)
- Intimate care wipes
- Toilet tissue wipe
In regard to the wipe material, it is explained that the Directive applies to:
Wet wipes, which are made using non-natural polymers or natural polymers that have been chemically modified, like polyester and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)
And it does not apply to:
Wet wipes, which are entirely made of natural polymers that have not been chemically modified, like viscose and lyocell.
If your wet wipes fall under the scope of products mentioned above, they should bear an additional marking, which states that the product contains plastics and should not be flushed due to potential danger to the marine environment. This marking can be seen below:
Annex II of the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2151, which includes the above marking, also gives further details on the use of the marking, such as the position, size and design. Additionally, it also states that the text of the marking shall be written in the official language of the Member State where the product is placed on the market.
This Regulation will apply in all EU Member States from 3 July 2021.
The marking may be added as a sticker to all packaging of wet wipes placed on the market before 4 July 2022.