Yesterday, the Commission is proposing new EU-wide rules on packaging, to tackle this constantly growing source of waste and of consumer frustration. On average, each European generates almost 180 kg of packaging waste per year. Packaging is one of the main users of virgin materials as 40% of plastics and 50% of paper used in the EU is destined for packaging. Without action, the EU would see a further 19% increase in packaging waste by 2030, and for plastic packaging waste even a 46% increase.
The new rules aim to stop this trend. For consumers, they will ensure reusable packaging options, get rid of unnecessary packaging, limit overpackaging, and provide clear labels to support correct recycling. For the industry, they will create new business opportunities, especially for smaller companies, decrease the need for virgin materials, boosting Europe's recycling capacity as well as making Europe less dependent on primary resources and external suppliers. They will put the packaging sector on track for climate neutrality by 2050.
The Commission also brings clarity to consumers and industry on biobased, compostable and biodegradable plastics: setting out for which applications such plastics are truly environmentally beneficial and how they should be designed, disposed of and recycled.
The proposals are key building blocks of the European Green Deal's Circular Economy Action Plan and its objective to make sustainable products the norm. They also respond to specific demands of Europeans as expressed at the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Preventing packaging waste, boosting reuse and refill, and making all packaging recyclable by 2030
The proposed revision of the EU legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste has three main objectives. First, to prevent the generation of packaging waste: reduce it in quantity, restrict unnecessary packaging and promote reusable and refillable packaging solutions. Second, to boost high quality (‘closed loop') recycling: make all packaging on the EU market recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030. And finally, to reduce the need for primary natural resources and create a well-functioning market for secondary raw materials, increasing the use of recycled plastics in packaging through mandatory targets.
The proposal will clear up confusion on which packaging belongs to which recycling bin. Every piece of packaging will carry a label showing what the packaging is made of and in which waste stream it should go. Waste collection containers will carry the same labels. The same symbols will be used everywhere in the EU.
For more information: ec.europa.eu