EU unveils plan to cut Europe’s plastic and packaging waste

The European Union executive is looking to ban the use of mini-shampoo bottles in hotels and throw-away cups in cafes and restaurants as part of wider legal proposals to curb Europe’s mountains of waste.

A draft EU regulation published on Wednesday also proposes mandatory deposit and return schemes for single-use plastic drink bottles and metal cans, as well as an end to e-commerce firms wrapping small items in large boxes.

The new rules, which have to be approved by EU member states and the European Parliament, aim to tackle the rise in plastic and other packaging waste. EU officials estimate that 40% of new plastics and 50% of paper are used in packaging, making the region a huge consumer of virgin materials.

The European Union passed a law in 2019 Ban the most common single-use plastic items, such as plastic cutlery, stirrers and straws, but officials want to do more to tackle the growing amount of packaging waste. The average European is believed to generate 180kg of packaging waste every year, which could increase by 19% by 2030 without action.

Under the latest proposals, EU member states must reduce per capita packaging waste by 15% by 2040 compared to 2018. Authorities believe this can be achieved with more reusing and refilling, as well as tighter controls on packaging. For example, e-commerce retailers must ensure that a box has a maximum of 40% free space in relation to the product.

Some “avoidable packaging” would face an outright ban, such as mini-shampoo bottles in hotels and single-use packaging for small amounts of fruit and vegetables. Hotels, cafes and restaurants will no longer be able to use throwaway cups and plates for customers eating in.

By 2040, restaurants offering takeaway will be required to serve 40% of their food in reusable or refillable packaging, while most coffee on the go will be in a reusable cup or supplied by the customer.

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“The way the goods are packaged can and should be improved a lot,” said The The European Commission Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President. “Such overpacking is a nuisance to us and harmful to our environment.”

“We want more packaging to be reusable, because we can’t recycle ourselves from the growing waste stream. And a well-functioning re-use system will replace single-use alternatives with reusable packaging for the environment.” is better than.

The commission also hopes to end confusion about recycling: it proposes harmonized labels, perhaps pictograms, to make it clear to consumers which bin to use.

In a separate law, the Commission wants to ensure that products claiming to be “biobased”, “biodegradable” or “compostable” meet minimum standards. In an effort to crack down on greenwashing, consumers will be able to tell how long it takes for an item to biodegrade, how much biomass was used in its production and whether it is actually suitable for home composting.

Pascal Canfin, the MEP who chairs the European Parliament’s environment committee, described the packaging proposal as a major step forward and one of the most ambitious in the world.

“We have gone from disposable to recyclable and we are solidly committing ourselves to a trajectory for reuse, as it is the most resource-efficient and will also help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels will help us,” he said.

Ocean conservation group Oceana accused the commission of giving in to industry pressure, pushing back a target to reduce single-use plastics by 2040.

“The European Commission’s proposal represents a unique opportunity to stop marine waste at its source,” said Natividad Sánchez, who leads Oceana’s plastics campaign in Europe. “However, it is worrying that the reuse targets for beverage packaging and e-commerce containers were reduced, and some even halved, when compared to the leaked draft text only a month ago.”

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