Legislation Targets and Greenwashing Concerns

Explore the European Parliament's new packaging legislation setting recycling targets and plastic bans, amid concerns over 'greenwashing' and loopholes in recycled content calculations.

Legislation Targets and Greenwashing Concerns

The European Parliament has adopted new binding targets for reuse, collection, and recycling of packaging, alongside outright bans on disposable plastic wrappers, miniature bottles, and unnecessary bags. However, NGOs have raised concerns about 'greenwashing'.

MEPs have approved a new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), described as one of the most lobbied files in recent years. Despite being contentious, the law mandates a reduction in packaging waste, aiming to cut the annual average of nearly 190kg of discarded packaging per EU citizen by 5% by 2030, rising to 15% by 2040.

To achieve this, the law sets re-use and recycling targets, and mandates that nearly all packaging must be fully recyclable by 2030. It introduces minimum recycled content targets for plastic packaging and minimum recycling targets for packaging waste by weight.

The legislation also requires take-away outlets to allow customers to use their own containers by 2030 and mandates the separate collection of 90% of plastic bottles and cans. Prohibitions targeting plastic waste, including individual sachets and lightweight plastic bags, will come into force from 2030.

While some lobby groups welcome the law, others express concerns. Matti Rantanen of the European Paper Packaging Alliance praises the evidence-based approach, while UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe supports the collection targets but questions mandatory re-use targets.

However, there are criticisms regarding recycled content calculation legislation. The European Commission's 'mass balance' approach, allowing recycled content certificates to be attributed to virgin plastic products, has drawn backlash. NGOs fear this could lead to misleading claims on recycled plastics.

The European Parliament's environment committee narrowly rejected this secondary legislation, but the decision sets a precedent that may impact future European laws, potentially allowing companies to manipulate recycled content data.

Overall, while the legislation aims to tackle packaging waste, concerns linger about loopholes and the potential for 'greenwashing'.


Keywords

European Parliament , packaging regulation , recycling targets , plastic bans , greenwashing

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