EU plastics law clears parliament with mixed reaction

  • : Petrochemicals
  • 24/04/24

The European Parliament has adopted the EU's Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) that requires reductions in plastics and other packaging, ahead of formal approval by the bloc's ministers.

The regulation had been provisionally agreed between EU diplomats in March.

The regulation, adopted with 476 votes in favor and 129 opposed, obliges packaging reductions of 5pc by 2030, 10pc by 2035 and 15pc by 2040. EU countries must specifically cut plastic packaging waste.

Starting on 1 January 2030, the regulation also bans single-use plastic packaging for unprocessed fresh fruit and vegetables, and for foods and beverages filled and consumed in cafés and restaurants. Other bans from 2030 affect individual portions for condiments, sauces, creamers and sugar, as well as very lightweight plastic carrier bags.

The rules require all packaging to be recyclable, with exemptions for lightweight wood, cork, textile, rubber, ceramic, porcelain and wax.

Plastics Europe's managing director Virginia Janssens said the adopted text is "ambitious" and needs practical implementation. "We need a careful review of the impact of the reuse targets and affected formats, especially in transport packaging," Janssens said. The plastics manufacturers' association said a lack of material neutrality undermined the aims of the PPWR to reduce packaging waste.

European paper industry association Cepi pointed to a phase out of "fossil-based materials" and called for timely compliance with the new regulation. Cepi urged EU member states to endorse the agreement when voting.

European farmers association Copa-Cogeca noted "discriminatory" treatment for the fruit and vegetable sector, adding that the European Commission, EU member states and parliament have so far "ignored" arguments to amend the text to exempt single-use packaging for fresh fruit and vegetables.

EU ministers also voted on an objection approved last week by the EU environment committee regarding mass balance accounting rules, which did not get the majority needed to be confirmed.

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