Eurocommissioner Sinkevičius presents a new initiative: we will feel the changes when shopping online, in restaurants and even in hotels
Virginijus Sinkevičius, the member of the European Commission responsible for the environment and fisheries, launched an initiative in the European Commission to reduce packaging pollution. In an exclusive interview “For a sustainable Lithuania“, V. Sinkevičius explained the essence of the initiative and what changes it will bring not only to residents, but also to businesses.
Changes due to pollution packages
The European Commission’s press release states that each European produces almost 180 kg of packaging waste per year. The production of packaging is one of the main uses of pure materials – they consume 40% of the EU. plastic and 50 percent paper. Taking no action by 2030 the amount of packaging waste in the EU would contribute another 19 percent, and plastic packaging waste – as much as 46 percent.
The proposed review of EU legislation on packaging and packaging waste has three objectives. Firstly, to prevent the generation of packaging waste by reducing its amount, limiting unnecessary packaging and promoting reusable and refillable packaging. Secondly, to increase high-quality (“closed cycle”) recycling – to achieve that by 2030 all packaging on the EU market would be suitable for recycling in an economically viable way. And reduce the need for primary natural resources and create a good market for secondary raw materials, while setting mandatory goals to increase the use of recycled plastics in packaging.
Eurocommissioner V. Sinekvičius clarifies in an interview to “Tvaria Lietuvai” that the main goal is by 2040. per capita in each member state packaging waste reduce by 15 percent compared to 2018 This would mean that the total amount of waste in the EU would be reduced by around 37% compared to what it would be without changing the legislation. Reducing the amount of packaging will also be aimed at reusing and recycling it.
“Of course, maybe 15 percent. and it doesn’t seem like much, but this goal is a huge challenge, because we see today that packaging pollution and that increase is much higher than sorting or recyclingeven though the scale of both sorting and processing has grown over the past 10 years,” says V. Sinkevičius.
According to him, only 65 percent. of packaging waste that we are able to sort and recycle. That’s about 35 percent every year. – this is about 30 million tons of waste is either incinerated, or ends up in landfills, or recently pollutes our environment.
“In response to this, we had to introduce measures that would emphasize not only the sorting and recycling methods we already know – they could, of course, be made even more efficient – but also the so-called reuse. We are continuing on the path we are already familiar with when it comes to banning single-use plastic or unnecessary plastic packaging. There will probably be quite big changes here, which will, of course, affect all consumers,” the European Commissioner assures.
Changes for both residents and businesses
V. Sinkevičius says that because of this initiative, residents first noticed that each package will be specially labeled. Labeling, according to him, will also appear on the containers, so it will be even clearer for them in which container to throw the package, because questions still often arise and the packages do not go where they should.
So, each package will have a label that will indicate what the package is made of and what waste stream it belongs to. The same labels will be on the collection containers. The symbols will be the same throughout the EU.
“We also talked about unifying the colors of those containers throughout Europe, but since the investments have already been made, we stuck to the unified marking. This will happen, I think, in the next 2-3 years, the Council, when the Parliament will adopt this regulation,” explains the European Commissioner.
According to him, the second thing that both businesses and residents will feel is e-commerce.
“When it comes to packaging and online shopping, it will not be possible to exceed 40 percent. of free space. This means that the package itself can be more than 40 percent. of that product, says V. Sinkevičius. – Currently, the packages significantly exceed the size of the product itself. Again, we’ve worked extensively with the largest companies that are shippers on how to ensure that product arrives safely, but at the same time with significantly reduced packaging.”
The European Commissioner also adds that by 2030 big changes await the restaurant and service sector as well.
“Take-out packaging will be prohibited in restaurants and cafes when eating inside. It will also only be possible to use reusable containers, meaning single-use packaging for food products such as ketchup, mayonnaise and drinks will no longer be allowed. After all, an extremely big change is waiting for fast food restaurants, as they use packaging for eating inside. Changes are also waiting for hotels – all small shampoo, lotion, shower gel, etc. will disappear. bottles. Until 2030 packaging for fruit weighing less than 1.5 kilograms will also disappear. And perhaps the most important goal is that by 2030 packaging will have to be fully recyclable.
In addition, a deposit system will be mandatory for all member countries, unless the state can demonstrate that it is able to collect 90% of the total. packaging without a taromat system”, says the representative of “Tvari Lietuva”.
So far, only 9 EU countries have deposit container collection systems, of which 6 collect plastic, metal and glass containers (Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania), and 3 – only metal and plastic (Germany, Slovakia and Sweden) ).
According to the Eurocommissioner, Lithuania has greatly increased the collection of PET bottles and cans packaging from probably 34 percent. before the introduction of the deposit system up to 91 percent. now.
V. Sinkevičius states that it will take time to replace the entire packaging that could be recycled, but we are talking about more than seven years from today, so there will be enough time.
“Obviously, this will be a big change, it will affect restaurants, who will have to find solutions. I don’t think it’s too much of a problem, I can already see many hotels switching to extra packaging and not having a queue for those bottles. Nobody is worried about it. <...>. Solutions exist, and some participants in the sector will need to adapt to them”, concludes the European Commissioner.
The EC’s press release highlights that the transformation will result in investment costs for the single-use packaging industry, but that the overall impact on the economy and job creation in the EU is positive. It is expected that by 2030, due to increased reuse alone more than 600,000 jobs will be created in this sector, many of which will be in local SMEs. Many innovations are expected to be implemented in the packaging sector, which will make it convenient to reduce, recycle, reuse and reuse packaging. The measures should complement wallets as well – if companies transfer the saved funds to consumers, every European could save almost 100 euros a year.
In addition, the implementation of the above-mentioned rules for the packaging sector will allow all opportunities to be implemented in 2050. the goal of climate neutrality.