The European Parliament adopts new rules on packaging


The European Parliament has taken a step forward in the fight against packaging pollution by adopting new rules aimed at reducing, reusing and recycling packaging materials.

The initiative, voted on 22 November 2023, aims to counter the growth in packaging waste, which accounts for almost 190 kg per European every year. MEPs approved an ambitious report, with 426 votes in favour, 125 against and 74 abstentions, setting targets for packaging reduction, including a 5% reduction by 2030, 10% by 2035 and 15% by 2040.

Significantly, MEPs also proposed a ban on lightweight plastic carrier bags and on harmful substances such as PFAS and bisphenol A in food packaging, marking a turning point in the protection of public health and the environment.

Encouraging reuse and refill options

In an effort to promote a circular economy, Parliament has focused on the reuse and refilling of packaging. The new directives encourage retailers, particularly in the catering sector, to offer consumers the option of using their own containers. This is intended to reduce reliance on single-use packaging and encourage more sustainable practices. This approach, which focuses on reuse, is essential for reducing the environmental footprint of packaging and raising consumer awareness of the importance of making sustainable choices.

Improving packaging collection and recycling

The third cornerstone of this legislative initiative concerns improving the collection and recycling of packaging waste. The new rules stipulate that all packaging must be recyclable and meet strict criteria, with temporary exemptions for certain materials. The aim is to achieve separate collection of 90% of packaging materials by 2029. This is crucial to achieving recycling targets and ensuring that reusable materials do not end up in landfill or the oceans.

With the adoption of this report, the European Parliament is responding to citizens’ expectations for a more robust circular economy and a significant reduction in packaging waste. The next steps will involve discussions with national governments to finalise the legislation, marking a decisive turning point in the management of packaging waste in Europe.

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