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Updated December 18th, 2023 at 21:00 IST

EU Nations approve legislation to cut packaging waste; seek sector-specific exceptions

Countries back rules for recyclable packaging and phasing out single-use plastics by 2030, with exemptions for sectors like organic produce.

Business Desk
Packaging waste
Packaging waste | Image:Unsplash

European Union nations on Monday endorsed new EU legislation aimed at reducing packaging waste, but they have decided to seek exceptions for certain sectors. Proposed by the European Commission last year, the law aims to address the increasing volume of packaging waste in the EU, which has surged by over 20 per cent in the past decade due to online shopping and quick-consumption habits.

Key targets in the new rules, such as designing all packaging for recyclability by 2030 and phasing out single-use plastic items like thin fruit and vegetable bags and mini shampoo bottles, were supported by member countries. However, they also agreed that exemptions could be made, particularly for sectors like organic produce.

While some countries, including Finland, expressed concerns about the potential impact on local paper and pulp industries, an exemption for cardboard from the switch to reusable packaging for transporting goods was granted to address worries about increased plastic waste. Additionally, wine was exempted from packaging reuse targets, a decision supported by Italy.

EU nations are now obligated to implement deposit return systems for plastic bottles and cans, with exemptions for countries demonstrating high collection rates for these items. The European Parliament also endorsed certain exemptions in its negotiating position on the law, including one for wine.

Acknowledging the division amongst countries and industry lobbying, EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius emphasised that the countries' overall position aligns with the primary objectives of the original law. Sinkevicius stressed the importance of halting the growth of packaging waste at a rate faster than GDP.

(With Reuters Inputs)

Published December 18th, 2023 at 21:00 IST

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