Today, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament voted for a reform of the European packaging waste rules. The goal is to limit harmful chemicals, set minimum recycled content requirements, restrict the use of lightweight plastic bags, and introduce targets for reducing packaging. The EU Parliament’s plenary session is expected to vote on the regulation in November.
Delara Burkhardt, environmental spokesperson for the SPD MEPs and lead negotiator of the Social Democratic faction in the European Parliament: „With the reform of the EU packaging rules, we can achieve a lot in reducing packaging waste, improving recycling, and enhancing consumer protection. The growing piles of packaging waste are not just a major environmental problem in Europe but also ‚Big Business‘ for producers. The packaging industry in the EU has annual sales of 355 billion euros. It’s unsurprising that measures to reduce packaging faced enormous pressure from the packaging lobby, who tried to prevent a shift towards more sustainability and less packaging material. From corrugated cardboard, jam jars, mail order companies, and fast-food chains – I’ve never received so many inquiries and submissions from interest groups for any other legislative proposal.
Reduction must be at the heart of the new packaging rules. For the first time, there will be Europe-wide guidelines for more reusable packaging in the beverage trade. What’s standard practice in Germany will now be the norm across Europe. There will also be a mandate for reusable To-Go drink containers following the German model. Disposable packaging that can be easily replaced with reusable ones or is simply unnecessary will be banned in the EU. We won’t have to eat our food amidst large piles of paper and plastic packaging in fast-food restaurants anymore. Large catering businesses will only be allowed to offer drinks and food in reusable dishes.
We’re making unavoidable packaging waste more sustainable. All packaging must be recyclable. Plastic packaging will also have to contain a certain percentage of recycled material, reducing the demand for new plastic.
Moreover, there’ll be more clarity for consumers on how to dispose of packaging. Each package will have a label indicating how and where to dispose of it. Trash bags and public trash bins will also have these labels to simplify sorting.“