The European Parliament, by a large majority, voted on the European Packaging Regulation ( PPWR ) on 22 November 2023. With 426 votes in favour, 125 against and 74 abstentions, the plenary approved a softer text than the commission's initial proposal. Several amendments, presented by the majority groups, were in fact passed before the final vote on the proposed regulation.
Parliament supported overall packaging reduction objectives proposed in the regulation:
5% by 2030,
10% for 2035
15% by 2040.
MEPs then proposed specific waste reduction targets for plastic packaging (10% by 2030, 15% by 2035 and 20% by 2040).
The Regulation prohibits the sale of very light plastic bags (less than 15 microns), unless they are required for hygiene reasons or supplied as primary packaging for loose food, to help prevent food waste.
It also severely limits the use of certain single-use packaging formats , miniature hotel packaging for toiletries and shrink-wrap for suitcases at airports.
To prevent negative health effects, the Regulation prohibits the use of intentionally added so-called “forever chemicals” ( per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances or PFAS) and bisphenol A in packaging in contact with food.
The Regulation provides requirements for the reuse or refilling of packaging.
Final distributors of drinks and takeaway food in the catering sector (including hotels, restaurants and bars) should offer consumers the possibility to bring and use their own container .
Some exceptions have been included in the text on packaging approved by the European Chamber, through amendments presented by the majority. For example , food packaging made of wood and wax is temporarily excluded.
PD MEP Paolo De Castro explains that " an exemption has been included for all those countries which, like Italy, have invested in recent years in a high-quality recycling system , among the most efficient at European level: those who will reach the 85% recycling rate of the packaging concerned and will in fact be exempt from the obligation to reuse" .
Furthermore, « key sectors of our agri-food sector are excluded from this regulation, limiting as much as possible the risk of greater food waste: from geographical indications to fruit and vegetables and floriculture, from wines to alcoholic beverages, up to bioplastics and to paper containers in the catering sector".
The points contested in recent months have also concerned the introduction of security deposit systems (DRS) aimed at recycling for countries that are unable to reach high collection targets.
And high-quality recycle , a high-quality recycling that requires recycling packaging and reproducing it with secondary raw materials. An approach that is in contradiction with the system adopted so far, whereby the material obtained from the recycling of packaging waste is used where there is demand, such as the automotive sector for example. In fact , in the final version voted by parliament, the open loop version has been adopted: no longer with the obligation to go from bottle to bottle, recycled materials can be used to do something else.
Parliament is ready to start talks with national governments on the final form of the law, once the Council has adopted its position.
In 2018, packaging generated a turnover of €355 billion in the EU. This is a constantly increasing source of waste: the EU total rose from 66 million tonnes in 2009 to 84 million tonnes in 2021. In the same year, each European generated 188.7 kg of packaging waste, a figure expected to increase to 209 kg in 2030 in the absence of measures.
(Source: https://www.ilsole24ore.com/ )