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Parliament adopts revamped rules to reduce, reuse and recycle packaging

On 22 November 2023, the European Parliament adopted its stance concerning the implementation of new EU-wide regulations on packaging, aimed at addressing the ongoing surge in waste generation while enhancing efforts in reuse and recycling initiatives. MEPs advocate for ambitious packaging reduction goals (5% by 2030, 10% by 2035, and 15% by 2040) and specific plastic reduction targets (10% by 2030, 15% by 2035, and 20% by 2040). Proposed bans include lightweight plastic bags, limited use of certain single-use formats, and prohibiting harmful chemicals in food contact packaging for health protection. MEPs seek clearer guidelines for reusable packaging. Final distributors of beverages and takeaway food in the food service sector, such as hotels, restaurants and cafés, should give consumers the option of bringing their own container.

The new rules require that all packaging should be recyclable, fulfilling strict criteria to be defined through secondary legislation. Certain temporary exemptions are foreseen, for example for wood and wax food packaging. MEPs urge countries to achieve a 90% separate collection of packaging materials by 2029.

In 2018, EU packaging generated €355 billion in turnover, escalating waste from 66 to 84 million tonnes from 2009 to 2021. Each European produced 188.7 kg of waste in 2021, projected to reach 209 kg in 2030 without intervention. Parliament addresses citizen concerns by fostering a circular economy, reducing non-sustainable packaging, and curbing single-use plastics. As to the next steps, Parliament is ready to start talks with national governments on the final form of the law, once the Council has adopted its position.