On Wednesday, European Parliament adopted its position on new EU-wide rules on packaging including PET bottles. In adopting the report, Parliament aims to build a circular economy, avoid waste, phase-out non-sustainable packaging and tackle the use of single use plastic packaging. Once again the rules provide for exemptions for composite packaging, e.g. Tetra Pak.
The Members of European Parliament (MEPs), under the leadership of Rapporteur Frédérique Ries voted on overall packaging reduction targets proposed in the regulation and decided on specific targets to reduce plastic packaging: 10% by 2030, 15% by 2035 and 20% by 2040. Furthermore, MEPs called for a ban of very lightweight plastic carrier bags and the use of so called “forever chemicals”, such as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances or PFASs and Bisphenol A in food contact packaging for health reasons.
The new rules also focus on stricter collection and recycling requirements of packaging waste. All packaging needs to be recyclable, fulfilling strict criteria to be defined through secondary legislation.
The European soft drinks sector, represented by Unesda Soft Drinks Europe, commends the positive efforts of the Parliament. Nicholas Hodac, Director General, especially emphasised his appreciation for the MEPs promotion of circularity of beverage packaging by enabling closed-loop recycling and mandating the setting-up of Deposit and Return Systems (DRS).
Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V. the German Association for Plastics Packaging, on the other hand, expresses its disappointment at the discrimination against plastic packaging compared to other materials. The criticism is directed specifically against the special reduction targets for plastic packaging, exemptions for composite packaging from the recyclate use quotas as well as reusable quotas and bans on single-use packaging, which should only apply to packaging made of plastic. The association fears that this will encourage a switch to other single-use packaging.
The Council still has to adopt the Parliaments position. Once this step has been taken, the Parliament is ready to start talks with national governments on the final form of the law.