Four selected legislative changes related to the environment
We would like to bring to your attention the legislative changes aimed primarily at reducing the amount of plastic waste and equipping buildings with charging stations for electric vehicles.
1. Providing plastic carrier bags for a fee
On 27 December 2019, the amendment to Act No. 79/2015 Coll. on Waste and on amendments to certain acts („Act on waste“) stipulating the minimum price of plastic carrier bags provided by the packaging producers for the purchase of goods or products, became effective.
In spite of the fact that the legislation effective as to 26 December 2019 contained an obligation to provide plastic carrier bags for a consideration, it did not specify the amount. The packaging producer who provides plastic carrier bags for the purchase of goods or products is now obliged to provide them for at least a price corresponding to the acquisition price (i.e. the price at which the packaging producer obtained the plastic carrier bags).
At the same time, the amendment extends this obligation to all plastic carrier bags (with the exception of very lightweight plastic carrier bags with a wall thickness below 15 micrometres which are required for hygiene reasons as a primary packaging for loose food or to prevent food waste).
The obligation to provide also other types of carrier bags (e.g. paper or textile carrier bags) for the purchase of goods or products has not been affected by this amendment.
For failure to comply with those obligations, the packaging producer may be subject to a fine ranging from EUR 500 to EUR 50,000. The Slovak Trade Inspection authority is authorized to control compliance with such obligations and impose fines.
2. Prohibition of placement of single-use plastic products and packaging and non-packaging products made from oxo-degradable plastics on the market of the Slovak Republic
With effect as of 3 July 2021, the amendment to Act on waste introduces a prohibition of placement of single-use plastic products on the Slovak market.
The prohibition will concern mainly the following single-use plastic products:
- plates and cutlery,
- beverage mixers,
- cotton buds and straws (excluding those used in health care as medical devices),
- sticks attached to balloons or supporting balloons (except for balloons for industrial or other professional use which are not distributed to the consumers),
- food packaging (e.g. fast food packaging), beverage packaging and beverage cups made of expanded polystyrene.
Single-use plastic products may be distributed until 31 December 2021, at the latest.
At the same time, placement of packaging and non-packaging products made of oxo-degradable plastics will also be prohibited.
3. Deposit on single-use beverage packaging
On 1 December 2019, Act No. 302/2019 Coll. on deposit on single-use beverage packaging and on amendments to certain acts („Act on deposit “) became effective, with divided effectiveness within the period of years 2019 and 2022. The provisions concerning the deposit on single-use plastic and metal beverage packaging will take effect only as of 1 January 2022.
The Act on deposit on single-use beverage packaging introduces a number of obligations for packaging producers and packaging distributors who sell beverages in deposit single-use plastic and metal beverage packaging to the end-user, especially following:
- deposit single-use beverage packaging and to abide by the amount of the deposit determined by the administrator of the deposit system of single-use beverage packaging („administrator“),
- mark the packaging in a way clearly showing that the packaging is covered by the deposit system (packaging producer),
- indicate the amount of the deposit with the sales price of the product (packaging distributor),
- keep separate accounting records of the sales price of the product and the amount of the deposit,
- ask the administrator to conclude a contract on fulfilment of the obligations pursuant to the Act on deposit and to register the single-use beverage packaging covered by the deposit system with the administrator before placing it on the market,
- collect waste from single-use beverage packaging at the place of operation or within 150 meters of such a place without quantity limitation and limiting this collection to the purchase of goods (packaging distributor),
- return the full amount of the deposit to the end-user who returns the deposited single-use beverage packaging, even without proving the payment of such deposit (packaging distributor),
- keep records of deposited single-use beverage packaging and report the data to the administrator.
The obligation to collect waste from single-use plastic beverage packaging at the place of operation or within 150 meters of such a place will only apply to a distributor with the sales area of at least 300 m2 (with the exception of the distributor who sells beverages as complementary goods, even though he meets the condition of the sales area of at least 300 m2). The collection of such waste will be optional for distributors with the sales area of less than 300 m2.
4. The obligation to install charging stations for electric vehicles
On 10 March 2020, the amendment to Act No. 555/2005 Coll. on the energy performance of buildings and on amendments to certain acts will become effective. The amendment introduces an obligation for owners of new or significantly restored non-residential buildings to equip such buildings with at least one electronic vehicle charging station and with a wiring infrastructure in at least one of five parking spaces. This obligation concerns non-residential buildings with more than 10 parking spaces. Additionally, each non-residential building with more than 20 parking spaces has to be equipped with at least one charging station by 1 January 2025.
The owners of new and significantly restored residential buildings with more than 10 parking spaces will be obliged to equip them with the wiring infrastructure for each parking space.
An exception from this obligation will apply to the owners of buildings for which an application for a building permit or a request for permission to restore a building is submitted by 10 March 2021 and the owners of significantly restored buildings if the costs for instalment of charging stations and wiring infrastructure exceeds 7 % of the total building renovation costs.
 According to the amendment, the oxo-degradable plastic means a plastic material that includes additives which catalyse the fragmentation of the plastic material into micro-fragments or its chemical dissociation.