Environment The Council of the EU agrees to reduce packaging waste by 15% in 2040

The Council of Environment Ministers of the EU accepted this Monday the proposal of the European Commission to establish general objectives to reduce packaging waste compared to 2018 levels: 5% in 2030, 10% in 2035 and 15% in 2040

Environment The Council of the EU agrees to reduce packaging waste by 15% in 2040

The Council of Environment Ministers of the EU accepted this Monday the proposal of the European Commission to establish general objectives to reduce packaging waste compared to 2018 levels: 5% in 2030, 10% in 2035 and 15% in 2040.

This is part of the general orientation of the Council of the interior of these products and promote the circular economy.

These general packaging reduction objectives were accepted last November by the European Parliament, which also proposed specific goals for plastic packaging: 10% in 2030, 15% in 2035 and 20% in 2040.

The Twenty-seven and the European Parliament are now in a position to begin negotiations on the final form of the norm. The political agreement agreed upon must be ratified by both community institutions before its publication in the Official Gazette of the EU.

"Each European generated 190 kilos of packaging waste in 2021. And this figure will grow by almost 20% in 2030 if things remain the same. We cannot allow that to happen. Today's general approach sends a strong message that the EU is committed to reducing and preventing packaging waste from all sources. This regulation is crucial on our path towards a circular economy and a climate-neutral Europe," according to Teresa Ribera, third vice president of the Spanish Government and minister for the Ecological Transition and the Challenge Demographic.

Ribera chaired the meeting of Environment Ministers in Brussels (Belgium) when Spain held the Presidency of the Council of the EU. The Twenty-seven proposal considers the entire life cycle of packaging and establishes requirements to ensure that packaging is safe and sustainable, by requiring that all packaging be recyclable and that the presence of substances of concern be minimized.

It also sets labeling requirements to improve consumer information and aims to minimize the generation of packaging waste with binding reuse targets, restricting certain types of single-use packaging and requiring economic operators to minimize the packaging used.

Once packaging becomes waste, the proposal aims to ensure it is collected, sorted and recycled to the highest possible level. To this end, it sets out criteria for extended producer responsibility schemes and includes provisions on waste management, while ensuring that Member States have sufficient flexibility to keep existing schemes in good working order.

The Council of the EU kept the scope of the European Commission proposal to cover all packaging, regardless of the material used, and all packaging waste, whatever its origin (including industry, manufacturing, retail and homes).

However, the Environment Ministers modified the initial proposal on recyclable packaging, as they maintained that all marketed packaging is recyclable, as proposed by the Commission, but will have that consideration when they are designed for the recycling of materials and when discarded packaging can collected separately, sorted and recycled at scale.

The Council also agreed that tea bags and fruit and vegetable stickers should be compostable, and that countries opt for other packaging (for example, coffee pods and lightweight plastic bags) to be compostable under specific conditions.

The text includes new reuse and recharge targets for 2030 and 2040. Different targets apply to large household appliances, food packaging, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (except wine), transport packaging (except for dangerous goods or large equipment). size and flexible packaging in direct contact with food) and grouped packaging.

According to the new rules, EU countries must guarantee the annual separate collection of at least 90% of single-use plastic bottles and metal beverage containers by 2029. To do this, they are obliged to establish return systems deposit for these packaging formats.