Government Ordinance no. 6/2021 on reducing the impact of certain plastic materials on the environment (”GO 6/2021”) was adopted by the Romanian Government with the purpose of reducing the impact of certain single-use plastic products on the environment.
One of the most significant provisions introduced by GO 6/2021 is a ban on single-use plastic products identified in Annex I of GO no. 6/2021, which includes products such as cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, and balloon sticks made wholly or partly of plastic.
The ban came into force on September 2nd 2021, and it aims to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated in Romania yearly. For this purpose, according to art. 4 para. 1 of GO 6/2021, economic operators who place single-use plastic products on the Romanian market have the obligation to progressively reduce the quantities placed on the market as follows: 5% for 2023, 10% for 2024, 15% for 2025 and 20% for 2026, compared to 2022;
To monitor the compliance with this purpose, GO 6/2021 stipulates that companies that produce or import certain types of single-use plastic products must submit to the Environmental Fund Administration (hereinafter the “AFM“) a declaration on certain single-use plastic products (“The Declaration“) regarding the quantity and type of products they have placed on the Romanian market during the previous year.
For the implementation of GO 6/2021, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests issued Order no. 185/2023 for the approval of the model and content of the form “Declaration on certain single-use plastic products” and the instructions for its completion and submission (hereinafter “Order 185/2023“), entered into force on 15.02.2023.
As is expressly clear from the definition of single-use plastic products, the obligation to submit the Declaration exists only if the following cumulative conditions are met:
i. Objective conditions:
– Plastic product – the product is made entirely or partially from plastic;
– Single-use product – The product is not designed, projected or placed on the market to achieve, within its life cycle, multiple cycles or rotations by returning to the manufacturer to be refilled or reused for the same purpose for which it was conceived;
– Product listed in Annex GO No. 6/2021.
ii. Subjective condition: the economic operator put the product for the first time on the market in Romania or in the other EU Member States;
Thus, the condition that the product is made of plastic is necessary, but not sufficient for the existence of the obligation to report to the AFM and to submit the Declaration.
The essential condition for the provisions of Articles 4 (1), 6 (5) and (6) and 9 (4) and (5) of GO 6/2021 is that the product is a single-use product, defined by art. 3 pt. 2 of GO 6/2021 as a product which is wholly or partly made of plastic (as this term has been defined in Art. 3 point 1 of GO 6/2021 and Article 3 point 5 of Regulation (EC) No. 1.907/2006) and which is not designed, projected or placed on the market to achieve, within its life cycle, several cycles or rotations by returning to the manufacturer to be refilled or reused for the same purpose for which it was designed;
In what regards the subjective condition, the obligation to submit the Declaration is the responsibility of legal entities/natural persons who have placed single-use plastic products on the market, a concept defined in Art. 3 pt. 6 of GO 6/2021 as putting a product for the first time on the market in Romania or in the other EU Member States.
If all the above-mentioned legal conditions are met and the company falls within the scope of GO 6/2021 and Order 185/2023, it had the obligation to complete and submit the Declaration to the AFM yearly, by 25 February at the latest.
The new obligations established by GO 6/2021 and the Order 185/2023 have significant implications for businesses in Romania, particularly those in the food and beverage industry. Businesses will need to find sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic products, such as biodegradable or reusable options. Additionally, businesses will need to ensure that their suppliers comply with the ban on single-use plastic products to avoid any legal repercussions.
When it comes to repercussions under GO 6/2021, companies that fail to comply with the annual reporting obligation or provide false or incomplete information can face fines ranging from RON 20,000 to RON 40,000, depending on the severity and frequency of the offense.
The specific penalties and sanctions may vary depending on the nature and severity of the violation, and the relevant authorities may have discretion in determining the appropriate measures to take in each case.
Also, it is important for businesses in Romania to familiarize themselves with the specific provisions of GO 6/2021 and to ensure that they are in compliance with the requirements of the ordinance. Failure to comply with the provisions of the ordinance may result in significant financial penalties and reputational damage, as well as potential legal action by the authorities.
Oana Sârbu, Partner DOMOKOS PARTNERS
Andrei Hârciu, Associate DOMOKOS PARTNERS