EU adopts new rules to reduce, reuse and recycle packaging



The new rules, which have been provisionally agreed on with the European Council, include targets to reduce packaging by 5% by 2030, 10% by 2035 and 15% by 2040.

The European Parliament has adopted new measures that aim to make packaging more sustainable and reduce packaging waste in the EU. The regulation was approved with 476 votes in favour, 129 against and 24 abstentions.

Certain single-use plastic packaging types will also be banned from 1 January 2030. These include packaging for unprocessed fresh fruit and vegetables, packaging for foods and beverages filled and consumed in cafés and restaurants, individual portions (e.g. condiments, sauces, creamer, sugar), accommodation miniature packaging for toiletry products and very lightweight plastic carrier bags.

The text includes a ban on the use of “forever chemicals” above certain thresholds in food contact packaging.

The European Parliament said in 2030 there will be specific reuse targets for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage packaging with some exemptions including milk and wine, transport and sales packaging, and grouped packaging.

For the first time in an environmental law, the EU is setting targets to reduce packaging, regardless of the material used.

Member states may grant a five-year derogation from these requirements under certain conditions.

The regulation also requires final distributors of beverages and takeaway food to offer consumers the option of bringing their own containers. They will also be required to offer 10% of products in a reusable packaging format by 2030.

Under the new rules, all packaging, except for lightweight wood, cork, textile, rubber, ceramic, porcelain and wax, will have to be recyclable by fulfilling strict criteria. Measures also include minimum recycled content targets for plastic packaging and minimum recycling targets by weight of packaging waste.

The regulation also requires member states to collect 90% of single-use plastic and metal beverage containers (up to three litres) by 2029.

Commenting on the regulations, Rapporteur Frédérique Ries (Renew, BE) said: “For the first time in an environmental law, the EU is setting targets to reduce packaging, regardless of the material used.

“The new rules foster innovation and include exemptions for micro-enterprises. The ban on forever chemicals in food packaging is a great victory for the health of European consumers. We now call on all industrial sectors, EU countries and consumers to play their part in the fight against excess packaging.”

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