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NABAS The Balloon & Party Industry’s Trade Association
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nabas sup plastic ban

SUP statement from EBPC

We are aware of confusion and misinformation regarding the Single Use Plastic ban that came into force on 1st October. We have asked extra questions of the European Balloon and Party Council (EBPC) and have received additional information to the legislation wording (provided in the gov.uk link below in response 1).

Question 1: Some of our members create hireable centrepieces which include plastic balloon sticks and cups and are either collected or returned for reuse. Are these also included in the ban even if they are used more than once? If they are not included in the ban, is there any guidance regarding how we should document it in case it is queried?

Response: 1) The UK Government has stated the following re. balloon sticks-

‘From 1 October you must not supply single-use plastic cutlery or balloon sticks. There are no exemptions to this ban.’ (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/single-use-plastics-ban-plates-bowls-trays-containers-cutlery-and-balloon-sticks)

As single-use is specified, the ban would not apply to balloon sticks which are not intended as a single-use plastic and are clearly intended and marketed as re-useable balloon sticks. This intention must come from the manufacturers or producers. A manufacturer is usually responsible for the design and bill of materials – not vice versa. Producers who purchase sticks that have already been designed and manufactured and are being packaged and resold are not the original manufacturers but rather referred to as ‘producer’ in most instances in the EU and UK. In these circumstances, the producer must satisfy themselves on the intent of the product and whether it is classified as single use or reusable. This may mean additional testing and packaging information requirements.

Question 2: Could we confirm if the ban covers both sticks that are sold and also those that are given away as part of e.g., a promotional event?

Response: 2) The legislation applies to the ‘supply’ of the single-use plastic balloon sticks, therefore these would be prohibited from being given away as a promotional item as well as prohibited from sale.

Question 3: In the past we have used balloon sticks with detachable plastic cups that support the balloons. Does the ban apply just to the stick or to both parts?

Response: 3) The ban would apply both to single use balloon sticks and the plastic cup used for its attachment, as defined in Part 1, Regulation 2 of the legislation. (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2023/982/regulation/2/made). The definition is as follows:

“single-use plastic balloon stick” means a stick, including its attachment mechanism, that is—

(a) designed or intended to be attached to and support balloons,

(b) made wholly or partly from plastic (the definition of plastic follows the EU definition which is a modified polymer as described under REACH Regulations (EC) 1272/2008. Polymers made from natural materials that are not modified in any way are exempt, however, naturally occurring polymers, whether biodegradable or not, are included in the scope e.g. PLA), and

(c) not designed or intended to be re-used

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland specific advice:

The Welsh Government has also stated that single use plastic balloon sticks and attachment mechanisms will be included in the ban. Single use plastics are defined as ‘a product that is not designed or manufactured to be used for the purpose for which it was designed or manufactured more than once (or on more than one occasion) before being disposed of’ (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asc/2023/2/section/1). The ban applies both to the sale of single use plastic products, and to giving them away free-of-charge. This closely reflects the English legislation.

Scotland do specifically state that the ban ‘does not apply where the single-use plastic balloon stick is supplied for attaching to balloons for industrial or other professional uses and applications that are only distributed to persons acting in the course of a business.’  (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2021/410/regulation/4/made). This covers use by events professionals, for example, for decorative purposes where the balloons and balloon sticks are not handed out to customers ‘free of charge’. Where the stick is used and collected by decorators this could be considered ‘professional use’, but the determination is made further back in the supply chain at the producer level – not decorator level. i.e., is there a specific product range that is ‘decorator only – not for public consumption’ and does the packaging indicate this?

Northern Ireland do not currently mention balloon sticks within their single-use plastic legislation.

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