Industry News

The European Parliament have revised the PPWR’s approach to tackling recycling and plastic

by | Oct 25, 2023

On the 24th of October 2023, the European Parliament Committee on Environment (ENVI) discussed changes to be made to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulations (PPWR). The discussion had particular focus on plastic pollution, fossil fuel dependency and ‘forever chemicals’ used in food packaging.

ENVI announced a multitude of changes to be made with the aim of aiding and increasing the recycling market, mentioning change surrounding plastic, reusable and refillable packaging. Most of the amendments were welcomed by lots of committees, including FEAD, the European Waste Management Association, who said they support the changes the ENVI committee have made.

FEAD and multiple organisations involved in the decision are happy with lots of the changes as most of them clearly consider the entire life cycle of packaging, from production to end-of-life. Another change focused on plastic bans, which reached an intricate level, to the extent that targets for reducing plastic packaging have been set in stages, which increases in small steps throughout the coming years. E.g., 10% by 2030, 15% by 2035, and 20% by 2030. Furthermore, another step that was received well was the introduction of the ban of plastic bags which do not meet specific requirements, such as the purpose they are designed for, or the material they are made of out, or are not under certain weights.

Alongside considering the life cycle of packaging, plus using incremental steps to reduce packaging, the discussion also outlined the new strategy to make it easier for consumers and recycling plants to determine which plastic is suitable for which variety of recycling. This strategy involves using a very simple system in which once all packaging can be recycled, which is the aim by January 2035, there will be terms such as ‘designed for recycling’ and ‘recyclable’ which will guide people towards recycling packing appropriately and effectively. A similar kind of system will be implemented for materials which are designed to be reusable and this system will identify which products can be reused or refilled and these items will also have a numeric value which states how many times that package can be reused or refilled.

On top of this positive change, the committees also agreed on making packaging safer, for both the environment and consumers, through banning the use of ‘forever chemicals’ on packages for food. Whilst these chemicals help protect the food against fire and water, they have also been seen to damage human health, meaning that this new ban is very important and an excellent step forwards.

Frédérique Ries (Renew, BE), commented: “The Environment Committee has sent out a strong message in favour of a complete overhaul of the European packaging and packaging waste market. There can be no effective recycling or reuse policy without safe packaging, which is why the ban on intentionally added harmful chemicals is a major victory for the health of European consumers. We have also ensured that environmental ambition meets industrial reality, with a report focusing on innovation and providing for a derogation for enterprises with fewer than ten employees.”

There are a few agreements and bans that have been put in place which some parties do not agree with. During the discussion, fifty-six parties were in favour and twenty-three were against, with only five parties absent. The issues some hold around the new rules are over clauses which state that biobased plastics are the same as recycled materials and this statement currently goes against what waste management systems actually say about bio-based materials. Other parties have issues with the idea of a closed loop recycling system as it will not take into account the recycling process as a whole and therefore will have negative effects on the rate of recycling. The concern with these is that it will have a detrimental effect on the European recycling sector, rather than a positive one. Therefore, whilst parties are happy with a lot of the changes, some are hoping that during the next discussion the problematic decisions will be changed and new beneficial decisions will be made.

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