European Parliament agrees on overhaul of packaging rules to cut waste and boost recycling

The European Parliament has adopted its position on new rules around packaging as it aims to combat the increase in waste and encourage recycling.

Packaging waste grew by more than 20 per cent between 2010 and 2020 in the EU, with almost 190 kg of packaging thrown away per person every year.

In addition to the target for reducing packaging waste proposed by the Commission – a 15 per cent cut by 2040 – MEPs wanted to add specific targets for plastic waste: a reduction of 10 per cent by 2030, 15 per cent by 2035 and 20 per cent by 2040. 

They want to see a ban on the sale of very light plastic bags, unless they are used for hygiene reasons or as primary packaging for bulk food to avoid food waste, and restrictions on certain single-use formats such as the miniature bottles used in hotels and shrink-wrap film for suitcases at airports.

"Parliament is sending out a strong message in favour of a complete overhaul of the European packaging and packaging waste market"

However, they ruled that individual portions of sauces and condiments, disposable containers used in restaurants and plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables should not be banned.

The report also aims to ban the addition of PFAS and bisphenol A chemicals to packaging that comes into contact with food. 

'Essential for innovation'

“Parliament is sending out a strong message in favour of a complete overhaul of the European packaging and packaging waste market,” said rapporteur Frédérique Ries, the Belgian MEP who has led negotiations. “This legislation is essential for European competitiveness and innovation, and it aligns environmental ambitions with industrial reality.”

The Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, which applies to multiple sectors, has divided MEPs, with the left pushing for more environmental ambition and the right adopting a more cautious stance.

Wednesday’s vote confirms the position that the Parliament will defend in its negotiations with member states. The member states have not yet adopted a position, making it uncertain whether the issue will be resolved before the end of the parliamentary term.



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