Importing disposable tableware from China to the EU

The damage that plastic packaging, tableware, and other products have caused to the natural environment is irreversible. However, the European Union has already implemented some measures restricting the use of such goods to prevent further disastrous consequences. The Chinese government, too, aims to limit the usage of food contact articles made of plastic. Therefore, many suppliers from China manufacture, e.g., disposable tableware. We discuss all the crucial issues concerning importing disposable tableware from China to the EU.

Importing disposable tableware from China to the EU

Directive (EU) 2019/904 – What is it?

The Directive (EU) 2019/904 is a legal act of the European Parliament and the Council that aims to decrease the influence of plastic products on the natural environment. It was issued in June 2019. Under this act, each European Union’s Member State was obliged to implement its provisions by 2021.

The directive’s main objective is sustainable waste management. It means that most of the waste can be reused or fully decomposed without releasing toxic substances. One of the biggest obstacles to reaching this goal is single-use plastic articles.

Restricted should be the usage of products such as:

  • plastic cups for drinks with lids;
  • food containers intended for direct consumption or take-out.

Banned from placing on the market were, i.e., the following single-use products:

  • cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers;
  • food and drink containers made of styrofoam.

Moreover, the directive obliges entrepreneurs to register in BDO, cover the costs of conducting activities to disseminate knowledge about environmental protection, and meet the labelling requirements.

Ecological alternatives to plastic tableware

Along with the consumers’ increasing awareness of the environment’s contamination and implemented restrictions, ecological, disposable tableware is gaining popularity. There are many alternatives to plastic, such as:

  • polylactide (PLA) – 100% biodegradable polymer derived from renewable raw materials, e.g., corn meal;
  • cardboard;
  • paper pulp;
  • sugarcane;
  • bamboo;
  • textiles;
  • cork;
  • palm leaves;
  • wheat bran;
  • wood.

Many Chinese suppliers have disposable tableware of the mentioned materials in their offers. Where to find such products manufacturers?

Production areas for disposable tableware in China

The most significant regions leading in production of disposable tableware and ecological packaging are cities like Shanghai, Qingdao, Wenzhou, Dongguan, and Guangzhou. Eco-packaging manufacturers have their factories mainly in Dongguan, Guangzhou, Weifang, and Shenzhen.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for disposable tableware suppliers in particular, make sure to check companies from Guangzhou, Xiamen, and Changsha. Thus, one should pay particular attention to Shandong, Zhejiang, and Guangdong provinces.

Check all the noteworthy places on the map below:

Production areas for disposable tableware in China

Importing disposable tableware from China – Duty rates

Every entrepreneur should be aware that payment of customs duties is a must when importing from China. Therefore, before you start the import process, check the values of duty rates for the chosen products. One can find customs duties and HS codes for various goods in the free-to-use TARIC system.

Check our guide on how to use the TARIC system.

Below we’ve compiled a short list of duty rates for disposable tableware from China:

Tableware and kitchenware of bamboo (4419190000) – 0%

Chopsticks of bamboo (4419120000) – 0%

Articles of natural cork (4503900000) – 4.70%

Trays, dishes, plates, cups, and the like, of bamboo (4823610000) – 0%

Trays, dishes and plates, of paper or paperboard (4823691000) – 0%

Moulded or pressed articles of paper pulp (4823709000) – 0%

Cartons, boxes and cases, of corrugated paper or paperboard (4819100000) – 0%

As one may notice, the duty rates for disposable tableware from China are relatively low. Depending on the degree of processing and materials used, the rates range from 0% to 5%. No wonder their import’s popularity keeps increasing.

EU requirements for importing disposable tableware from China

The most significant legal act for disposable tableware and other articles that maintain direct contact with food is Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004. Due to their purpose, such products are called FCM (Food Contact Materials). The regulation applies to articles made of, e.g., wood, plastic, and many more.  

Under the regulation, kitchen utensils and tableware must have information “food safe material” attached to it. The international marking for FCM products that are safe for consumers is a “wine glass and a fork symbol.” It confirms that their usage will not cause harm or endanger human health and life. The “food safe” symbol must be affixed directly on the product, its packaging, or a label attached to it. However, the mark must be visible, readable, and permanent.  

Food Contact Material

The LFGB Certificate

If your products are intended for the German market, make sure to acquire the obligatory LFGB certificate. To obtain such a certificate and LFGB marking for your goods, one must carry out necessary tests to confirm their compliance with safety and quality regulations included in the LFGB act. Following this, the LFGB certificate is issued based on the test reports.

Keep in mind! Articles that must have the LFGB certification and mark are not exempt from the requirement of affixing the “glass and fork” symbol, valid throughout the European Union.

Food Contact Materials – Legal acts in the EU

  • Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food;
  • Regulation (EC) No 450/2009 on active and intelligent materials and articles intended to come into contact with food;
  • Regulation (EC) No 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food;
  • Regulation (EU) No 284/211 laying down specific conditions and detailed procedures for the import of polyamide and melamine plastic kitchenware originating in or consigned from China and Hong Kong.

Trade fairs for disposable tableware in China

There is no other as excellent way to find a Chinese supplier as attending a trade fair. During such events, one can compare offers from various companies, ask questions face-to-face, check the quality of the goods, and more. Below we’ve prepared a list of some trade fairs for disposable tableware in China:

Shanghai World of Packaging (SWOP)

Location: Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC), Shanghai

Official website: https://www.swop-online.com/en

LOHAS Expo

Location: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, Hong Kong

Official website: https://lohasexpohk.com/

International Processing & Packaging Exhibition – ProPak China

Location: National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC), Shanghai

Official website: https://www.propakchina.com/en

ECO Expo Asia

Location: Hong Kong AsiaWorld-Expo, Hong Kong

Official website: https://event.hktdc.com/fair/ecoexpoasia-en/Eco-Expo-Asia-International-Trade-Fair-on-Environmental-Protection/

Importing disposable tableware from China – Summary

  • Due to the increasing awareness of contamination and damage that plastic articles have caused to our environment, disposable tableware and packaging have become more popular.
  • Chinese manufacturers offer tableware made of alternative materials, such as cardboard, bamboo, sugar cane, and many more.
  • Duty rates for disposable tableware from China are relatively low and don’t exceed 5%.
  • Importers of disposable tableware must fulfil all the applicable requirements, e.g., affix the “food safe” symbol on their products.
  • Remember to verify your supplier before placing an order to ensure that they’re trustworthy!
  • Check our article about importing disposable tableware from China to the US.

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