A 2022 European proposal aimed to cut down on packaging waste, reduce air pollution caused by packaging production, and recycle what packaging is still produced. In December 2023, the proposal became law.
The 27 countries within the European Commission (EC) have all agreed to the goals of reducing the percentage of waste from single-use packaging by 5% by 2030 and 15% by 2040. That means reducing solid waste due to packaging down to 21% from 36%. This will be an amazing step toward an environmentally friendly future.
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But how will they do it?
Additionally, the process of creating packaging causes heat-trapping gases to be released into the air, contributing to the Earth’s overheating. Reuters stated that the European Union (EU) also wants the amount of reduced emissions to cancel out the amount produced — resulting in net-zero emissions — within these countries by 2050.
This leaves some questions surrounding to-go boxes, plastic bags, shipping materials, and other items. The proposal has covered that, too: All packaging must be recyclable by 2030, and “EU members will also be required to have deposit return systems in place for plastic bottles and cans.” Some items, such as tea bags and some produce labels, will be required to break down into compost to become a natural part of the soil by 2040.
“No one should any longer accept that packaging waste is growing faster than GDP,” said EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius.
The passing of this law gives European citizens hope for their environmental future and will hopefully motivate other nations worldwide to follow suit.
“Today’s general approach gives a strong message that the EU is committed to reducing and preventing packaging waste from all sources,” said Spain’s Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, minister for the ecological transition and the demographic challenge. “This regulation is crucial in our path to a circular economy and a climate-neutral Europe.”
At home, you don’t have to wait for a new law to break away from single-use plastics. For instance, you can repurpose milk jugs as planters, send your cleaned, old mascara wands to Wands for Wildlife, or use reusable water bottles and sandwich bags.
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