EU Commission proposes a revision of the EU legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste
On 30 November, the European Commission proposed new rules aiming at reducing the amount of packaging waste produced in the EU. The revision of the EU legislation will prevent packaging waste, boost reuse/refill and clear up confusion around biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics.
The new rules are part of the Commission’s Circular Economy Package and aim to set targets to reduce the amount of single-use packaging by cutting down on unnecessary packaging, ensuring reusable packaging options, and providing clear labels to support correct recycling. In addition, this revision in legislation will put the packaging sector on track for climate neutrality by 2050 and includes mandatory recycled content targets for plastics, new eco-design criteria to make products more easily recyclable, as well as a renewed push to put in place deposit return schemes for used items.
The EU Commission also aims at clearing up consumers’ confusion around biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics. Since the use of these plastics is constantly increasing, the Commission shed some light on the conditions that have to be respected to have a real positive environmental impact, rather than intensify plastic pollution. The revision also sets out how these materials should be designed, disposed of and recycled.
The new revision in legislation will empower consumers and enable them to act consciously and implement daily measures to fight against plastic waste. Therefore, these measures aim to fight greenwashing and avoid misleading labels: generic claims on plastic products such as ‘bioplastics' and ‘biobased' will no longer be accepted and producers should refer to the exact and measurable share of biobased plastic content in the product. Since these products bring ‘bio' labels on them, consumers have the perception that they are good for the environment, but this is only true to a certain extent.
Consumer co-operatives have always been committed to reducing the use of plastics in their activities and they have already adopted several packaging waste measures. In this regard, it is important to highlight some actions on plastic reduction our consumer co-operative members have already started at national level:
Coop Jednota launched a system to recycle PET bottles and cans with a total of 1100 collection points in its stores and keeps its customers informed on how bottles and cans should be collected. Customers delivering disposable plastic and cans receive 15 cents back for each piece. This action contributes to the commitment of the Slovak Republic to promoting the reuse of undamaged materials for the production of new packaging.
Eroski cut more than 1,100 tons of single-use plastic per year as a result of its commitment to reducing it both in its bags and in its brand packaging. These results have been achieved thanks to promoting among Eroski customers the use of reusable bags and packaging, as well as by replacing single-use plastics with compostable alternatives or FSC® certified paper. Eroski is also committed to making progress in reducing plastics on its own-brand packaging.
Coop UK replaced plastic packaging with cardboard to reduce single-use plastic. The chain also made changes like making milk bottle lids a lighter colour so they’re easier for recycling machines to sort. Moreover, the chain rolled out its soft plastic recycling scheme in 2021, and it's now possible for customers to find recycling bins in over 800 Co-op stores in the UK.
Hispacoop, the Spanish consumer co-operatives confederation, promotes recommendations of the Spanish Agency for Food and Nutrition for customers to bring their boxes when going grocery shopping. Thanks to these simple and sustainable actions, it is possible to reduce the use and wastage of plastic and other materials contained in food packaging by following simple tips issued by the Spanish government.
Coop Italy was assigned a Super Prize and 19 mentions at the "Competition for the Ecodesign of Packaging in the Circular Economy 2021". An important result that acknowledges its commitment to eco-sustainability issues and the use of recycled material and industrial waste instead of virgin material.