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The European Parliament will ban the use of permanent chemicals in food packaging

The European Parliament will ban the use of permanent chemicals in food packaging

On Wednesday, the European Parliament adopted by a large majority proposals related to packaging recycling, which aim to reduce the amount of plastic waste. There is scope for reduction: each European resident produces approximately 190 kg of packaging waste every year. This equates to 85 million tons in the entire European Union – exclusively for packaging waste. (For comparison: this represents a third of the mass of gasoline and diesel consumed in the European Union in one year, which amounts to 242 million tons.)

With the proposal approved by 26 votes to 125, with 74 abstentions, the European Parliament is ready to begin negotiations with EU governments on the final form of the legislation. Therefore, it is also necessary for the Council made up of Member States to accept his position as well.

The European Parliament would reduce plastic packaging by ten percent by 2030 and by 20 percent by 2040. In doing so, the European Parliament has formulated a more specific target than the European Commission, which has set only a general packaging reduction target, proposing a 5 percent reduction by 2030 and a 15 percent reduction by 2040.

“MPs want to ban the sale of very light plastic bags (less than 15 microns), unless they are necessary for hygiene reasons or used to package soft foods to prevent food waste. It is also recommended to limit the use of some forms of single-use packaging,” the European Parliament said in a statement. Such as mini packages in hotels for toiletries and packing of travel bags at airports.

Drops eternal chemicals

In order to prevent adverse health effects, representatives also want to ban the use of so-called “permanent chemicals” (perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, or PFASs) and bisphenol A in packaging that comes into contact with food. We’ve previously written about PFAS and their harmful effects.

In addition, consumers will be encouraged to recycle packaging. To do this, distributors of beverages and prepared foods, such as hotels, restaurants and cafes, must give consumers the option of bringing their own containers.

It should be noted that this proposal also entails a reconsideration of responsibility for food safety, as it can no longer be the responsibility of food and beverage distributors to ensure the cleanliness of their container brought by the consumer.

“The new rules will require all packaging to be recyclable and meet stringent standards to be set out in secondary legislation. Certain temporary exemptions are expected, for example in the case of using wood and wax in food packaging.”

The aim of the regulation is to collect 90 percent of the materials used in packaging – plastic, wood, ferrous metals, aluminium, glass, paper and cardboard – separately by 2029.

Small waste, big money

Packaging is a huge source of waste in the EU: from 66 million tons in 2009 to 84 million tons in 2021. Without further measures, this number will rise to 94 million tons by 2030. However, packaging is also big business In 2018, packaging achieved a sales volume of 355 billion euros in the European Union, the European Parliament said in a statement.

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