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Regulation moves forward, albeit with Italians voicing strong objections

European Parliament moves on packaging waste

In a significant stride towards environmental sustainability, the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) has endorsed a new packaging regulation aimed at curbing plastic waste, a major pollutant within the EU.

This regulation, initiated by the European Commission, targets a reduction in packaging materials, with a particular focus on plastics that have surged in recent years. Despite criticisms from the packaging industry and concerns over food safety and increased costs, the regulation has moved forward, albeit with Italian MEPs voicing strong objections over its potential adverse effects on Italy's leading packaging sector.

The ENVI committee's resolution includes a ban on ultra-light plastic bags under 15 microns, except where necessary for hygiene or as primary packaging for loose foods, to mitigate food wastage. Furthermore, it establishes ambitious waste reduction targets for plastic packaging, aiming for a 10% reduction by 2030, escalating to 20% by 2040. The regulation also advocates for the inclusion of recycled content in plastic packaging and explores the potential of biologically sourced plastics in the EU's decarbonization efforts. Additionally, it proposes restrictions on hazardous chemicals in packaging, including PFAS and bisphenol A, due to their environmental and health risks.

The packaging sector's significant economic footprint in the EU, generating a €355 billion turnover in 2018 and an increasing waste problem, underscores the urgency of these regulations. Despite resistance from various industry lobbies and the call for a more ambitious initial proposal, the ENVI committee's compromise reflects a crucial step towards addressing packaging waste and its environmental impact.


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