In efforts to put an end to wasteful plastic and paper packaging, the European Commission tabled recently a set of new rules which prevent packaging waste, boost reuse and refill, and make all packaging recyclable by 2030.
According to EU data, each European citizen generates on average almost 180kg of packaging waste per year. The target under the proposed rules is to reduce packaging waste by 15 percent by 2040 per member state per capita compared to 2018.
Additionally, by 2030, the measures would bring greenhouse gas emissions from packaging down to 43 million tons compared to 66 million tons if the law is not changed, reducing by 6.4 billion euros costs of environmental damage for the economy and society relative to the baseline 2030.
For consumers, the rules foresee reusable packaging options, limits to overpackaging, clear labeling to support correct recycling as well as info and guidance on biobased, compostable and biodegradable plastics and how these should be designed, disposed of and recycled.
For the industry, the regulations create new business opportunities, especially for smaller companies, limit the need for the use of virgin materials, boost Europe’s recycling capacity as well as make Europe less dependent on primary resources and external suppliers.
According to EU data, packaging is one of the main users of virgin materials with 40 percent of plastics and 50 percent of paper used in the EU going into packaging. Without action, the EU would see a further 19 percent increase in packaging waste by 2030, and for plastic packaging waste a 46 percent rise.
The Commission’s proposals come under the European Green Deal’s Circular Economy Action Plan which aims to make sustainable products the norm. They also respond to specific demands expressed by European citizens at the Conference on the Future of Europe.
According to the Commission’s announcement, the proposed revision of existing EU legislation on packaging and waste aims to reduce packaging waste in quantity, restrict unnecessary packaging and promote reusable and refillable packaging solutions; boost high quality recycling: make all packaging on the EU market recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030; reduce the need for primary natural resources and create a well-functioning market for secondary raw materials, increasing the use of recycled plastics in packaging through mandatory targets.