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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Ecology. The European Parliament adopted regulations reducing the number of plastic packaging – sachets, disposable packaging, plastic bags

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The European Parliament has adopted regulations to reduce the amount of plastic packaging. The ban will include, among others, foil packaging for vegetables and fruit, disposable cups, ketchup sachets, and even miniature shampoo or shower gel packaging. For the changes to enter into force, they must be accepted by member states.

So far, packaging issues were regulated by the EU waste directive. Now, however, packaging has its own regulations. New EU regulations are intended to help the EU reduce some plastic packaging, which is intended to help reduce the ever-growing amount of garbage.

The regulations were proposed by the European Commission in 2022, and in March this year. a preliminary agreement on this matter was reached by the European Parliament and the Council. On Wednesday, MEPs supported it with an overwhelming majority of votes (476 for, 129 against).

Plastic phasing out

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The regulations assume certain ranges when it comes to reducing the amount of plastic packaging in Member States. By 2030, their number is to be 5%. less, by 2035 – by 10%, and by 2040 – by 15%.

It is primarily about reducing plastic packaging used in transport, as well as promoting collective packaging and online shopping. Today, it still happens that individual orders are sent to customers in separate plastic packaging, e.g. T-shirts additionally packed in plastic bags.

Manufacturers and importers will also have to give up too large packaging and will be obliged to reduce the weight and volume of packaging to a minimum – so that it can accommodate the purchased products, but so that there is not too much unnecessary free space left in the packages.

New EU regulations – these packaging will disappear from the market

Whereas from January 1, 2030, some types of single-use plastic packaging will be banned altogether. We are talking about, for example, foils in which fresh fruit and vegetables are still packed in many stores (sometimes even individually), disposable dishes and cups used in cafes and restaurants, as well as packaging for single portions, such as plastic sachets for spices, sauces, coffee cream or sugar.

The ban will also cover miniature cosmetics packaging, such as shampoos and shower gels, which are still popular in some hotels. Very light plastic shopping bags, i.e. – as the legislator defined – less than 15 micrometers thick, will also be banned. Those in the EU have also disappeared from many stores and have been replaced, for example, by paper bags.

Out of concern for consumers' health, the legislator also introduced a ban on the use of artificial packaging in contact with food in the production of the so-called eternal chemicals with concentrations exceeding permissible values. These are per- and polyfluoroalkyl PFAS compounds that are hazardous to health and can penetrate food and drinking water and, consequently, lead to hormonal disorders, adversely affect fertility and even cause cancer.

A visit to a cafe with your own mug

The new regulations also provide a framework for recycling and reusing packaging. Restaurants, bars and cafes offering takeaway drinks and meals will have to give consumers the opportunity to use their own container and, for example, bring their own cup for coffee. They will also be given time until 2030 to start selling 10%. all products in reusable packaging that the customer will be able to use for the next order.

Under the new regulations, all plastic packaging will have to be recyclable, and newly produced packaging will have to contain some materials from recycled raw materials. Today, products advertised as coming from recycled materials – e.g. clothes advertised as being made from PET bottles – often contain only 1% of them.

The deposit system in EU countries

In turn, by 2029, 90 percent single-use plastic and metal beverage containers, such as water or soda bottles and beer cans, will need to be collected separately. Deposit systems have already been introduced in some Member States. For example, in Germany, customers pay the so-called Pfand, i.e. the deposit that is returned to them after returning the bottles and cans to the store. Experts estimate that a glass bottle can be easily used up to 50 times, and a plastic bottle – 25 times.

READ ALSO: Changes in the deposit system. There is a project>>>

The average European produces on average almost 190 kg of packaging waste per year. It is estimated that in 2030 this number will increase to 209 kg per person. Today 40 percent plastics such as plastic and 50 percent of paper used in the EU is spent on packaging. EC data shows that in 2009, the EU produced 66 million tons of packaging waste, and in 2021 – 84 million tons.

For the new regulations to enter into force, they must be officially approved by the Council, i.e. Member States. However, in the face of the agreement concluded in March this year the agreement should be just a formality.

READ MORE: “The deposit system is harmful.” Entrepreneurs appeal to Tusk for urgent changes

Main photo source: Marcus E Jones/Shutterstock



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