EU Council, Parliament Agree on Packaging Waste Reduction Proposal

Stack of trash bags

(Credit: Unsplash)

by | Mar 6, 2024

This article is included in these additional categories:

The European Union’s Council and Parliament have reached a provisional agreement to regulate packaging waste, establishing requirements to ensure safe, circular packaging solutions. The proposal includes recycled content requirements, reuse and refill targets, and restrictions on single-use plastic packaging.

In terms of content requirements, the ruling will increase restrictions on PFAS and establish a minimum recycled content percentage in plastic packaging. Also included is a rule to reduce unnecessary packaging, creation of a maximum empty space ratio of 50% in grouped, transport, and e-commerce packaging, and requirements to minimize packaging weight and volume.

Additionally, the new agreement includes updated reuse targets for 2030 and 2040. Beverage and take-out distributors will be required to offer consumers the option to bring their own containers without an additional charge. By 2030, take-out restaurants will need to offer 10% of products in reusable packaging formats.

Reuse, while currently a less popular solution for reducing packaging waste compared to recycling, contains great potential to expand as consumers indicate a willingness to adopt reuse practices.

Additional Strengthened Rules Directly Address Plastic Waste Crisis

The original EU packaging waste directive was adopted in 1994 and has since been revised a number of times. Based on assessments of the directive, the rules have not adequately reduced the environmental impact of the packaging industry so far.

A major driver of the packaging sector’s continued waste impact stems from the widespread adoption of single-use plastics. These materials are particularly harmful to the environment due to their inability to be reused and their outsized emissions impact. If plastic production continues at its current levels, its emissions may reach 1.3 gigatons each year by 2030, or the equivalent of adding nearly 300 new coal power plants to the world’s energy mix.

The rule therefore introduces restrictions on single-use plastic packaging used for fruits and vegetables, food and beverages, condiments, small cosmetic and toiletry products, and very lightweight plastic bags such as those used at grocery stores. Further, by 2029, member states must ensure separate collection of at least 90% of single-use plastic bottles and metal beverage containers each year. They will also be required to provide deposit return systems to direct consumers to properly dispose of such packaging types.

According to the EU Council, the regulation will be applied 18 months after it is approved by the member states’ representatives within the EU Council and by the Parliament’s environmental committee.

Additional articles you will be interested in.

Stay Informed

Get E+E Leader Articles delivered via Newsletter right to your inbox!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Share This