EU declared war on plastic waste

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The EU Commission proposes refillable cups in fast food chains, a ban on mini shampoo bottles in hotels, and fixed deposit systems – resistance is strong.

The figures are frightening: according to the EU Commission, around 25.8 million tons of plastic waste are produced in Europe every year, less than 30 percent of which is collected for recycling. Every year, up to 500,000 tons of plastic waste end up in the sea in Europe.
Brussels has now declared war on plastic waste. In November last year, the Commission presented a draft for a new packaging regulation. And the plans are pretty radical. According to the draft, 80 percent of “coffee to go” cups and beverage cups from McDonald’s and Co. must be recyclable by 2040. The situation is similar for food: It must be possible to refill the packaging of 40 percent of all takeaway meals from restaurants. There is to be a complete ban on packaging that the Commission calls “wasteful,” – such as mini shampoo and mini shower gel bottles in hotels. In addition, half of the packaging in online retail should be recyclable. In addition, there are binding quotas for reusable bottles and the proportion of recycled plastic.
As is always the case with environmental regulations, stringent ones, there is fierce resistance from the business community. For example, the fast-food chain McDonald’s calls the EU’s plans “counterproductive to the goals of the Green Deal” and has anchored its criticism in a report it financed itself.

Two camps: recycling versus reuse
At the beginning of May, the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee discussed the draft. Here, too, there is disagreement, with MEPs divided into two camps that have so far been irreconcilably opposed to each other – the fans of recycling versus the advocates of reuse. In the fall, the plenum of the House is scheduled to vote on the fight against packaging waste. And before the EU elections in June 2024, the plastic mountain will be shrunk by regulation.

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