Right-wing coalition and fast-food lobby aim to further sabotage new EU packaging law

The latest official Eurostat data revealed that Europe’s packaging waste crisis had reached a new record of 188.7kg of packaging waste per capita in 2021. A 10.8kg per capita increase in waste compared to 2020.

Brussels, 20 October 2023
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On Tuesday, the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) will vote on its report on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation. 

The latest official Eurostat data revealed that Europe’s packaging waste crisis had reached a new record of 188.7kg of packaging waste per capita in 2021. A 10.8kg per capita increase in waste compared to 2020.

In the shadows of this trash mountain, a coalition of Italian MEPs, and lobbyists from the fast-food and single-use packaging industry have pressured parliament to significantly water down measures aiming to curtail the record levels of waste. 

Earlier, a coalition of NGOs working together against plastic pollution and deforestation had warned policy makers of both the risks of growing levels of single-use plastic and paper packaging waste, as well as promoted the economic and environmental opportunity of reusable packaging. 

Yet, during negotiations, policy makers across political groups were alarmed at never-seen-before levels of lobbying from the packaging industry. Environment Committee Chair MEP Pascal Canfin publicly condemned the misleading lobbying strategy from companies like McDonalds.

Under intense pressure, the Rapporteur MEP Frederique Ries and other shadow MEPs working on the file gave in and weakened key measures on prevention and reuse. 

On Tuesday, Members of the Parliament’s ENVI committee will be presented with two main options: a severely watered-down set of compromises offered by the Rapporteur, or an even less ambitious text championed by Italian MEPs from ECR and EPP and mirroring demands from the packaging industry. The latter would remove almost all obligations on the packaging sector to reduce waste levels beyond promoting recycling – a set of measures entirely insufficient to solve Europe’s waste crisis. 

The outcome of the vote will be a test of whether the European Parliament can resist unprecedented levels of lobbying, and determine if Europe can offer a credible solution to the packaging waste crisis.

“The compromises put forward by the Rapporteur are far from sufficient to reverse the trend in ever-increasing packaging waste and are generally weakening the Commission’s proposal. But we are very worried that these bare-minimum compromises may not even make it through the very Parliament committee whose function it is to protect the environment and human health.”

Ioana Popescu, Coordinator of the Rethink Plastic alliance

“If we want to reduce garbage and protect European and tropical forests, we must urgently curb increasing reliance on single-use packaging. It is deeply disturbing that McDonald’s’ lobbyists might actually succeed in gutting the PPWR. The ban on unnecessary single-use packaging such as throwaway plates and cups – be they plastic or paper – must pass Tuesday’s vote. Otherwise, the immense human and environmental damage wrought by the single-use packaging industry will continue unabated.”

Sergio Baffoni, Senior Campaign Coordinator at Environmental Paper Network

Ahead of the European Parliament ENVI vote, Rethink Plastic, Fern and the European Paper Network call on MEPs to vote for an environmentally ambitious revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste regulation, and in particular to support Ries’ bare-minimum compromise amendments on reuse targets and unnecessary packaging. 

Notes for editors:

Rethink Plastic is an alliance of leading European NGOs, representing thousands of active groups, supporters and citizens in every EU Member State. We are part of the global Break Free From Plastic movement, consisting of over 11,000 organisations and individuals worldwide demanding an end to plastic pollution.

The Rethink Plastic alliance has been working together with an informal alliance of NGOs with expert knowledge on the entire lifecycle of plastics and paper. The members of this informal coalition are Zero Waste EuropeEuropean Environmental BureauECOSClientEarthDeutsche UmwelthilfeRecycling Network BeneluxFern and the Environmental Paper Network.

Rethink Plastic