The new regulation for packaging and its recyclability

On March 4 European Parliament and Council agreed on a new regulation about packaging and packaging waste, fixing reduction targets that go beyond the employed material. This agreement is provisional – soon it will undergo the scrutiny of the representatives of the Member States in the Council and in the Environment Commission. Once approved by both institutions, it will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and applied eighteen months later.   

What points have been agreed upon? Actually, the packaging reduction targets: 5% within 203010% within 2035 and 15% within 2040. But also, the reduction of plastic waste. From January 1st 2023, in fact, a few single use plastic formats will be prohibited. Some examples: those for fruit and vegetables, not transformed; those for food and drinks that are consumed in bars and restaurants; the individual portions for food such as sauces, sugar, seasonings; the hotel miniature packaging for toiletry products; but also, the shrink-wrap for suitcases in airports.

To reduce plastic waste, the new agreed-upon regulation forbids the use of plastic bags less than 15 microns (the very lightweight ones) unless employed for hygienic reasons or to prevent food wastage.

PFAS too will be banned from the production of food packaging, while as for packing that are reusable for drinks – excluding milk, wine, and spirits – the agreement states that within 2030 they should be reduced of at least 10%. It will be mandatory, for final distributors of take-away food and drinks, to offer customers the option of returning the container.

As for water, if the regulation becomes effective, restaurants, refectories, bars, cafeterias, and catering services will have to encourage the use of tap water.

Then, what materials could be used for packaging from now on? The one and only condition will be that they are recyclable. With the exemption of lightweight wood, cork, textiles, rubber, ceramic, porcelain, and wax.

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