PPWR deal: good steps to reduce packaging waste despite worrying exemptions, says Zero Waste Europe

The final round of talks took place last night in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) which saw good steps to tackle Europe’s ongoing packaging waste crisis, despite some clear losses, says Zero Waste Europe.

PPWR deal: good steps to reduce packaging waste despite worrying exemptions, says Zero Waste Europe

The conclusion of the long-awaited revision of EU packaging rules puts forward measures to ban certain unnecessary packaging, impose waste prevention targets for all packaging placed in the single market, and establish reuse targets for certain packaging segments, including beverages and transport packaging.

Zero Waste Europe applauds the ban on PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals’, in food packaging.

Dorota Napierska, Toxic-Free Circular Economy Policy Officer states:

We are truly relieved to see policymakers taking action on these harmful and extremely persistent chemicals through the PPWR. This means recognising the urgency of phasing out PFAS from food packaging and prioritising consumers’ health. This will hopefully also send a clear message to food packaging manufacturers that all other substances of concern that we currently find in food packaging should also be eliminated in the coming years.

However, Zero Waste Europe expressed its deep concern with some worrying exemptions to the benefit of paper-based and composite packaging applications. For instance, the exclusion of paper-based packaging from the market restrictions measures, and the exemption of cardboard packaging from the reuse targets. Additionally, the complete deletion of the reuse targets for the takeaway sector is another win for the paper industry lobbyists, since this sector has largely shifted to single-use paper based packaging, especially after the adoption of the Single-use Plastics Directive.

Larissa Copello, Packaging & Reuse Policy Officer, states:

It’s unsettling how the paper-based packaging lobbyists managed to get a ‘free-ride’ in the PPWR by escaping from market restrictions and some of the reuse targets at the expense of the environment and the public interestWhen it comes time to implementing the PPWR, we hope it won’t lead to regrettable material substitution, and instead encourage real packaging waste reduction through well-designed reuse systems.

Aline Maigret, Head of Policy, states:

“We needed stronger action on waste reduction and reuse packaging systems, instead we got a dizzying amount of regulatory loopholes for single-use packaging. It is environmentally and economically absurd. The European Parliament has launched an investigation into the flagrant disregard for due process exhibited by the demagogues of the single-use sector, which should tell you everything you need to know.”

Co-legislators recognised a key difference between recycling technologies in the adoption last night, however, the absence of the European Commission’s support for the final text due to the issue of imported recycled plastic appeared worrying.

Lauriane Veillard, Chemical Recycling & Plastic-to-Fuels Policy Officer, states:

Zero Waste Europe welcomes the adoption of the PPWR and the recognition of the difference between recycling technologies by co-legislators. However, the absence of the European Commission’s support for the final text due to the issue of imported recycled plastic is worrying as it is of utmost importance that recycled materials are of the same quality and meet the same requirements wherever they are produced, to protect true circularity principles in the EU. This gap in support means that implementation and controls will, here again, gain primacy as we know that they are currently not sufficiently established.

The parties have agreed to ban the incineration and landfilling of recyclable packaging, but the interpretation of this agreement is unclear as to whether the ban pertains only to packaging waste separately collected or encompasses all packaging waste, including that which isn’t collected separately. Zero Waste Europe believes the most effective enforcement of this ban is to mandate mixed waste sorting before incineration and landfilling.

Zero Waste Europe and a coalition of environmental NGOs call for the European Parliament to ratify the compromise swiftly and advocates for high ambition and proper implementation of the regulation.

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