The regulations would facilitate consumers to make greener choices at the till such as more reusable packaging options, reduction in over-packaging of products and clear recycling labels on products. The proposed regulations will put the European packaging sector on track for climate neutrality by 2050.
The Commission said that the reuse or refilling of packaging has declined dramatically in the past 20 years. To encourage a more circular culture, the proposed regulations would require companies to offer a fixed percentage of their products to consumers in reusable or refillable packaging.
As well as incentivising reuse of packaging, certain single-use packaging would be banned such as packaging for food and beverages consumed inside of restaurants and cafes, and for products such as fruit and vegetables.
Many measures in these regulations aim to make packaging fully recyclable by 2030. These measures include setting design criteria for packaging, the introduction of a mandatory deposit return system for plastic bottles and aluminium drinks cans, and a requirement of producers to include a minimum rate of recycled content in new plastic packaging.
The Commision said the regulations would deliver clarity to consumers and industry around bio-based, compostable and biodegradable plastics. Under the proposals, biomass used to produce bio-based plastics must be sourced sustainably, biodegradable plastics “must be approached with caution” and labelled to show how long they will take to biodegrade, and industrially compostable plastics should be used only when they have environmental benefits.
The proposals have not yet been approved; they will be presented to the European Parliament and European Council for decisions on whether they should be introduced.