According to new guidelines proposed by the European Commission, all packaging on the EU market will be expected to be 100% recyclable by 2030 in an effort to combat growing packaging waste and assist the EU's climate and environmental goals.
Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Green Deal, said in a statement introducing the new regulations that the proposals would "reduce packaging waste, promote reuse and refill, increase the use of recycled plastics, and make it easier to recycle packaging."
According to the Commission, packaging waste in Europe, which has already reached over 180 kilograms per person per year, would increase by an additional 19% by 2030, with plastic packaging waste increasing by 46%. In the EU, packaging accounts for 40% of plastics and 50% of the paper.
"European citizens are keen to rid themselves of excessive packaging and unnecessary packaging mass, and businesses are prepared to move forward with sustainable, creative packaging solutions and systems."
The new ideas aim to cut packaging waste by 15% per capita per Member State by 2040 through recycling and reuse. Companies would be compelled to supply a specific amount of their products in reusable or refillable packaging. Additionally, package formats will be standardized and reusable packaging will be clearly labeled.
The regulations also attempt to decrease superfluous packaging by prohibiting single-use packaging for food and beverages consumed in restaurants and cafés, single-use packaging for fruits and vegetables, micro shampoo bottles, and another miniature packaging in hotels.
Other steps include setting rules for how packaging should look, making it mandatory for plastic bottles and metal cans to have deposit return systems, and making it mandatory for new plastic packaging to contain recycled materials.
According to the Commission, the proposed rules would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 23 million tonnes by 2030, water consumption by 1.1 million cubic meters, and environmental damage costs by €6.4 billion.
Commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkeviius stated:
"Every day, each person generates a half kilogram of packing waste. With the new regulations, we propose essential actions to make sustainable packaging the norm in the European Union. We shall establish the conditions necessary for the circular economy principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle to be effective."