“This is bad news because it sends the wrong message. We regret the lack of vision and capacity of a concrete strategy for a more sustainable country”, said Susana Fonseca, from Zero’s management.

Susana Fonseca also considered that the decision of the Government, which occurred “at the worst possible time”, as a bad sign.
The restaurant and similar sectors can continue to use disposable plastic tableware until 31 March, 2021, according to a decree approved by the Council of Ministers as part of the measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The decree “extends the period that catering and beverage service providers have to adapt the provisions regarding the non-use and non-availability of single-use plastic tableware, until 31 March, 2021,” the Council of Ministers communiqué said.

At the same time, “a deadline of 31 December 2020 is set to clarify and harmonise legislative provisions in this matter, in order to proceed with the first phase of transposition of Directive (EU) 2019/904, of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019”.

“There is an incorrect idea that reusable plastic is less safe than disposable,” said Susana Fonseca, adding that the measure taken “does not increase any safety” in relation to Covid-19 and the delay in implementing the ban will only reinforce this wrong idea.

The Government had decided to ban disposable plastic crockery as of 3 September, anticipating by more than a year (July 2021) an EU directive in this regard.

Organisations in the catering sector had already asked for the use of disposable tableware to be allowed until the date of the directive, July next year.

On 24 August, the Minister of Environment and Climate Action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, reiterated how fundamental it was to implement the directive on disposable plastics, and admitted that Covid-19 “disturbed” this work. But he did not say at the time whether or not there would be a postponement.