EU to ban certain types of single-use plastic packaging


Plastic packaging

The Council presidency and the European Parliament’s representatives have reached a provisional political agreement on a proposal for a regulation on packaging and packaging waste.

The text sets new binding reuse targets for 2030 and indicative targets for 2040. According to the deal, certain single-use plastic packaging formats would be banned from 1 January 2030. The agreement also sets targets for EU member states to reduce packaging by 5% by 2030, 10% by 2035 and 15% by 2040.

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

“We call on all industrial sectors, EU countries and consumers to play their part in the fight against excess packaging. The ban on forever chemicals in food packaging is a great victory for the health of European consumers. It was also essential that environmental ambitions meet industrial reality. The deal fosters innovation and includes exemptions for micro-enterprises.”

The text sets new binding reuse targets for 2030 and indicative targets for 2040.

The banned single-use packaging formats include packaging for unprocessed fresh fruit and vegetables, packaging for foods and beverages filled and consumed in cafés and restaurants, individual portions for condiments, sauces, creamer and sugar, accommodation miniature packaging for toiletry products and shrink-wrap for suitcases in airports.

Negotiators also agreed to require member states to increase the use of reusable packaging for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages by 10% by 2030.

Other agreed measures include minimum recycled content targets for any plastic part of packaging, minimum recycling targets by weight of packaging waste generated and increased recyclability requirements, and a requirement for 90% of single-use plastic and metal beverage containers (up to three litres) to be collected separately by 2029 through deposit return schemes (DRS).

The European Parliament and Council now need to formally approve the agreement before it can enter into force.

Carla Worth, Policy Lead at Common Seas, commented: “The world produces 141 million tonnes of plastic packaging a year and we need to turn the tide before it’s too late. With effective plastic bans, paired with active Extended Producer Responsibility and DRSs, the EU can lead the world forward in the fight against plastic pollution.

“With our collective sights set on Ottowa and INC4, huge milestones like this are receiving comparatively less attention. However, the EU is setting an important precedent by focusing on upstream interventions, such as bans and reduction and reuse targets – all of which will help turn the tide on plastic waste production.”

There is currently a paranoia around plastics.

However, Symphony Environmental, which develops technology to make plastic biodegradable, said the EU’s ban on plastic packaging is an example of “plastiphobia”.

Michael Laurier, CEO of Symphony Environmental, said: “There is currently a paranoia around plastics. Plastiphobia arose due to a core problem with degradation because regular plastics can create microplastics that lie or float around for decades if they get into the open environment.

“Sustainable developments in plastics manufacturing technology have already paved the way to addressing the real environmental issue of plastic waste. For example, plastic made with d2w masterbatch technology at little or no extra cost will convert rapidly at the end of useful life into biodegradable materials, anywhere on the planet so long as oxygen is available. They are then completely biodegraded, leaving no toxicity or microplastics and do so much more quickly than ordinary plastic products.

“The EU needs to ensure that plastics remain the product of choice, as it keeps food safe and secure, and allows products to stay protected as they travel through the supply chain to our homes.”

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