Plastic Regulations Around the World

Plastic Regulations Around the World

Plastic makes up close to 62%* of all coffee capsule packaging materials. Considering that nearly 80 billion coffee capsules are produced yearly, almost 50 billion capsules are made out of plastic.

Producing and failing to properly recycle 50 billion single-use plastic capsules annually poses a serious threat to the ecosystem we rely on to survive. Unfortunately, most plastic products aren’t recycled. They end up in landfills, lakes and oceans.

Many businesses using plastic as their main packaging material seem to care little for the effects of the plastic they produce on the environment. Therefore, governments worldwide have been forced to step up and create policies to regulate the use of plastic.

Let’s look at the policies some governments are implementing to curb plastic waste and the future of plastic as a packaging material in the coffee capsule market.

United States (U.S.)

There have been efforts by several local governments in different states across the U.S. to form legislation that regulates the use of single-use plastic. Communities in local governments are often first to face the brunt of plastic waste. Therefore, they are the first to act.

However, backward-thinking state governments impede their efforts by having laws that prevent them from effecting any bans on single-use plastic. These are known as preemptive laws, which make it illegal to ban single-use plastic. This is true in at least 17 states.

In addition, there are no regulations on the use of single-use plastic at the federal level. For this reason, plastic continues to dominate the coffee capsule market as the preferred packaging material.

Nevertheless, states like California, Vermont, New Jersey and Washington D.C. have made significant progress toward regulating the use of plastic. For instance, Washington D.C. led by example in 2010 when it enforced a tax on plastic bags under bill 2010 B150.

European Union (EU)

Currently, the EU does not have specific policies on plastic coffee capsules. However, it remains adamant about reducing the use of plastic and switching to alternative materials by imposing bans (prohibitions) on numerous plastic products.

For instance, since July 3rd, 2021, it has been illegal to place certain single-use plastic products for which alternative materials exist in the markets of EU member states. Some of the banned products include single-use plastic plates, cotton buds and straws.


Like the EU, Canada doesn’t have active laws regulating the use of disposable plastic coffee capsules, which make up the majority share of all coffee capsules in the country.

However, Canada has created an ambitious plan — Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations (SUPPR) — to become a zero-plastic waste nation by 2030. This plan aims to prohibit manufacturing, importing, and selling several single-use plastic products. They include checkout bags, ring carriers, straws, food service ware and stir sticks.

The SUPPR results from a study released in October 2020 discovered that plastic was polluting Canada’s water bodies like rivers, lakes and oceans, causing harm to wildlife. Additionally, plastic generates microplastics, which ultimately make their way into the food chain, causing harm to its citizens’ health.


Although coffee capsules and coffee drinking are not widely adopted in Africa, Africa remains at the forefront of the war against single-use plastic. Other forms of single-use plastic products, like checkout bags, are rampant. And the lack of proper garbage disposal systems in most African countries creates a critical plastic waste problem.

Plastics are ubiquitous in the streets and landfills. As a result, up to 34 countries in Africa either entirely prohibit single-use plastics or impose extremely high taxes that discourage their use.

For instance, single-use plastic bags (checkout bags) are illegal in Kenya and Rwanda. These countries strictly enforce these bans with hefty fines or prison sentences handed to those in violation.


The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in India announced plans to ban certain single-use plastic products from July 1st, 2022. The list of products it targets includes items like cutlery, straws, checkout bags and trays.


Further to the ban, the ministry also prohibits manufacturing, importing, stocking, distributing and selling the same materials.

According to the ministry, these products were identified as having “low utility and high littering potential.”

India’s observation follows that of many other nations, which agree that the outlined single-use plastics threaten the realization of a single-use-plastic-free future.

East Asia

East Asia is made up of several countries, among them China, Japan and South Korea. China is known to be the largest producer of plastics and the largest contributor to plastic pollution in the world.

However, until 2016, China wasn’t actively involved in regulating the production and use of plastic. But that changed the same year. It started ramping up the regulatory instruments governing plastic use locally.

Since then, it has continued to use policies, information campaigns and prohibitions to regulate the plastic industry. Further, the policies regulating plastics in China have become increasingly complex, targeting various types of plastics and the plastics supply chain.

In contrast, Japan has taken a different approach. It requires businesses handling over five metric tons of plastic annually to reduce the amount used. This law covers common single-use plastics like straws and forks. Also, plastic products like hangers used in dry cleaning stores and hotel toothbrushes are regulated.

Further, Japan also requires businesses offering checkout bags to charge for those bags instead of handing them out free of charge. Retailers can choose how much they want to charge, but the amount must exceed one yen.

South America

Mexico City, Mexico’s capital, produces over 123 million tons of plastic waste daily. Out of this, it only recycles about 6.07%. The low recycling rate creates a huge plastic pollution crisis in Mexico.

The 2003 Solid Waste Law for Mexico City was amended in 2019 to address plastic pollution in Mexico City. It effectively prohibited the marketing and distribution of plastic bags and single-use plastic products unless they were compostable.

Final thoughts: Plastic regulations around the world

From the data collected in different nations worldwide, it’s evident that single-use plastics are responsible for at least half of the plastic pollution menace in the world today. In fact, approximately 50% of plastic is only used once and disposed of.

Many governments know that eliminating single-use plastics will solve half of the plastic pollution problem and are working towards it by implementing policies and effecting bans on their use.

In the coming years, we expect more bans on single-use plastics in more countries. This will have a ripple effect on the coffee capsule industry as well. The reasonable conclusion must be that switching to aluminum coffee capsules in your private-label coffee business is a smart decision in future-proofing your business, offering multiple profitable advantages.


*All data in this article is based on reliable online sources.


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