Plastic Not Fantastic: Isle of Man Bans Single-Use Plastics

Posted on November 16, 2023

← Back to Info Centre

Tynwald’s Climate Change (Single Use Plastics) Regulations 2022 entered into force in the Isle of Man on 19 October 2023. This follows a 12 month grace period from Tynwald’s initial approval of the Regulations in order to allow businesses to adapt. The Regulations prohibit the sale, distribution, and supply of 10 types of single-use plastic items including plastic carrier bags, straws and cutlery and plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

The manufacture, sale and distribution of rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads are also banned. These tiny particles are commonly used as cleansing or exfoliating agents in cosmetic products. Once washed down the drain, toxic microbeads slip through water filtration systems and end up in the sea where they bioaccumulate in the marine food web, risking environmental and human health.

There are some exemptions to the ban, for instance specific compostable plastics and the use of plastic straws and cotton buds in medical settings are excluded. In the event of non-compliance, financial sanctions may be enforced.

The Regulations follow the Island’s policy commitment in its Single Use Plastic Reduction Plan, and were enacted under Tynwald’s Climate Change Act 2021 – section 29 empowers the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) to make regulations governing the prohibition and restriction of single-use plastics. The entry into force of the Regulations aligns the Island with the 2019 EU Single-Use Plastics Directive and other UK jurisdictions: England introduced a similar ban on 1 October 2023, with Scotland being more proactive having banned certain single-use plastics over a year prior on 1 June 2022.

With the third round of negotiations for a global plastic pollution treaty taking place in Nairobi, Kenya this month (13 – 19 November 2023), there is a global race to ameliorate the problem of plastic pollution. The Isle of Man’s Regulations illustrate its willingness to follow international best practice and contribute to the crystallisation of the Island’s fast-emerging environmental law framework. As an Island with a deep-rooted maritime heritage, significant marine biodiversity and a sea fishing industry worth at least £13 million per annum to the local economy, the Regulations signify a step towards protecting our seas from plastic pollution. It is also consistent with the Island’s unique status as an entire nation UNESCO Biosphere.

Eve Aycock is a trainee Advocate at M&P Legal with a Masters in Global Environment & Climate Change Law from Edinburgh Law School. Please take specific advice on the facts of each case.

Back to top