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EU wants to turn packaging world upside down

  • 26 October 2023

Imagine a world where our daily items come encased not in piles of wasteful packaging, but in materials that champion reuse, recyclability, and reduced environmental harm. The European Union is making strides towards this vision, with the Environment Committee unveiling transformative regulations that could reshape the very essence of packaging as we know it.

Tuesday 24 October witnessed a monumental shift. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the Environment Committee greenlit a proposal, winning 56 votes, which sets the tone for holistic packaging management – right from raw material extraction to its eventual disposal. The rulebook is clear: reduce excessive packaging, make reuse and recycling a breeze, and amplify the use of recycled components.

Some highlights:
Rethinking Plastic: Very lightweight plastic bags, especially those under 15 microns, face potential prohibition, safeguarding only those crucial for hygiene or preventing food wastage.
Raising the Recycled Bar: The onus is on manufacturers. The new regulations stipulate minimum recycled content in plastic packaging, with concrete benchmarks set for 2030 and 2040.
Bio-based Plastic's Potential: By 2025, the Commission eyes exploring sustainability benchmarks for bio-based plastic, unlocking pathways to a fossil-free plastic economy.
Empowering Consumers: Consumers could soon play a more significant role. The MEPs advocate for clearer definitions of reusable packaging and encourage outlets, especially in the food and beverage sector, to accept consumer-brought containers.
Health over Profit: The Committee takes a stringent stance against notorious "forever chemicals" (PFASs) and Bisphenol A, used predominantly in food packaging, due to their associated health risks.
Unified Recycling Standards: The proposal amplifies the recyclability criteria for EU packaging and mandates member nations to separately collect 90% of packaging materials by 2029. Digital platforms aren't spared either, bearing similar responsibilities as producers.

Capturing the essence of these changes, Rapporteur Frédérique Ries remarked, “The Environment Committee’s message is unequivocal. A sustainable packaging ecosystem demands safe materials. This directive, prioritizing health and innovation, is a monumental win for European consumers."

Come this November, the entire house will determine the trajectory of this game-changing mandate. If passed, the European packaging landscape may be on the cusp of a greener revolution.

Source: Europarlement