On 30 November 2022 the European Commission (EC) proposed a new EU-wide rules on packaging and packaging waste, (including an impact assessment accompanying the proposal) as a key building block of the European Green Deal's Circular Economy Action Plan.
According to the EC press release, “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”. Moreover, one of the main driver of the proposal, according to the EC, is the average generation of packaging waste per year: each European generates almost 180 kg of such waste. The EC estimates, furthermore, that, without action, the EU would see a further 19% increase in packaging waste by 2030.
According to the EC, the regulation proposal has three main objectives:
- to prevent the generation of packaging waste in quantity, by restricting unnecessary packaging and promote reusable and refillable packaging solutions. The proposed target is to reduce packaging waste by 15% by 2040 per Member State per capita, compared to 2018, for instance by banning certain forms of packaging, for example single-use packaging for food and beverages consumed inside restaurants and cafes, single-use packaging for fruits and vegetables, miniature packaging in hotels;
- to boost high quality (‘closed loop') recycling by making all packaging on the EU market recyclable, introducing a set of measures to make packaging fully recyclable by 2030 and, also, by introducing mandatory deposit return systems for plastic bottles and aluminium cans;
- to reduce the need for primary natural resources and create a well-functioning market for secondary raw materials, by increasing the use of recycled plastics in packaging through mandatory targets.
The EC regulation proposal will now follow the ordinary legislative procedure by the European Parliament, the Council and the EC, in order to shape the final agreed upon regulation.
The SMART WASTE project provides a set of Good Practices and Action Plans supporting prevention and recycling of waste, including packaging waste, through:
- a better public planning of waste management;
- public funding of separate collection and recycling;
- waste collection optimisation;
- new waste recycling infrastructure;
- demonstration projects in waste management to increase recycling and re-use capacity on municipal level.