Industry Committee attempt to undermine new EU packaging law

The European Parliament’s Committees on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) and Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) Committees all vote on their respective reports on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation this week, reacting to the proposal tabled by the European Commission in November 2022. 

Although leadership of the file remains with the Environment Committee who will not vote until September, the three reports set a worrying tone for the landmark waste file. 

Today, ITRE Committee voted with 58 in favour, 11 against and 3 abstentions on the report,  led by Italian Socialist MEP Patrizia Toia which was voted as a single compromise.

Mirroring the requests of the laggards in the packaging industry, the report decimated ambitions on reuse and waste prevention, deleting all reuse targets for the HORECA sector as well as all 2040 reuse targets across sectors. Further key provisions were also removed in the report such as mandatory deposit return systems for beverages and most of the measures to tackle unnecessary packaging. The industry committee also moved the definition of recyclability from the Commission-led delegated acts to the European standardisation body CEN, an opaque industry led body unlikely to help remove all non-recyclable packaging from the market by 2030. 

Due to its shared competency with the environment committee on aspects such as reuse and refill targets, the result in ITRE could endanger key provisions until the plenary vote expected in autumn 2023. Campaigners had already warned that too much flexibility in the new packaging law risked repeating the mistakes of the existing directive by permitting a business as usual approach from packaging producers. Similarly, the removal of waste prevention measures will make it impossible for Member States to deliver on waste prevention targets also included in the proposal. Continuing to offer derogations, loopholes and no legal certainty to the packaging market will maintain the current trajectory to ever growing levels of packaging waste and clearly undermines the objective to make all packaging reusable and recyclable by 2030. 

“Today’s vote by the Industry committee undermines the objectives of the regulation without offering any credible solutions to reduce packaging waste. The environment committee and the whole Parliament must reject this irresponsible attempt to defend wasteful practices which have led to record levels of packaging waste and pollution. Decision-makers should resist vested interest and seize this opportunity to promote more sustainable packaging practices.” Marco Musso, Senior Policy Officer – European Environmental Bureau

A vote in the IMCO Committee, also concluded yesterday, saw the draft report prepared by France’s right wing MEP Virginie Joron (ID) overturned by an alternative compromise text tabled by a conservative, socialist, liberal and green coalition. The outcome of the vote offered a glimmer of hope for the regulation. The alternative amendments included some improved provisions such as stronger requirements on online marketplaces to ensure compliance with extended producer responsibility fees. 

Discussions in the AGRI Committee are ongoing with a vote on their report, led by conservative MEP Salvatore De Meo, expected this afternoon. The report focuses on maximising flexibility on any provisions related to the food sector, including a raft of exemptions to reuse and waste prevention measures. The report also aims to delete reuse targets for 2040. 

Previously campaign groups warned Agricultural ministers not to be led astray by misinformation on the links between food safety  and single use packaging. Growing evidence also proves that record levels of packaging have not had a real impact on food waste.

“The outcome of today’s vote contradicts the Parliament’s commitments on the Circular Economy and the Green Deal. Up to now, EU policies have been focusing on managing waste rather than preventing it, and that led us to a packaging waste growth of 20% in 10 years. The need for ambitious waste prevention and reuse targets is unquestionable. It is very unfortunate that some industry players and MEPs are not seeing the opportunity behind the reuse targets, which has amazing potential for producers to achieve both resource and cost efficiency for their packaging. We hope the ENVI committee will correct the course and adopt a text that seizes the opportunity of reuse and waste prevention” Larissa Copello, Packaging & Reuse Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe.

Rethink Plastic alliance and 81 organisations are calling for well-designed reuse systems in the PPWR revision to reduce packaging waste

Brussels, June 8, 2023
For immediate distribution

The Rethink Plastic alliance and a coalition of 81 organisations, consisting of civil society organisations and businesses, are advocating for the integration of well-designed reuse systems as a catalyst for preventing packaging waste in the revision of the PPWR. In an Open Letter we are calling for strong reuse measures in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), specifically for our MEPs and Ministers to:

  1. Support the European Commission’s sectoral reuse targets, including for the takeaway sector;
  2. Critically assess evidence comparing reuse and single use packaging, challenge opaque methodologies and results, vested interests and unrealistic assumptions;
  3. Set economic incentives for reuse packaging systems (e.g: dedicated fund from Extended Producer Responsibility schemes).
Reusable Take-away Packaging – Seven Facts

The letter is accompanied by a Factsheet on 7 reasons why reusable take-away packaging is a sustainable alternative compared to single-use packaging. Im sum:

  1. Reusable take-away packaging is more climate-friendly than single-use packaging: The emissions associated with reusable packaging are spread out throughout its life-cycle according to the number of rotations it undergoes, but only to a certain break-even point (e.g: reusable plastic cups are more advantageous than all common single-use alternatives after only 10 cycles and for reusable meal boxes after 13-15 rotations on average).
  2. The cleaning of reusable take-away packaging uses less water than the production of single-use packaging: According to several independent researches, the water consumption of the production of single-use take-away packaging can be considered to be higher compared to the cleaning efforts for reusable packaging.
  3. Reusable take-away packaging gets recycled whereas the most common disposal scenario of single-use take-away packaging is incineration: The production and disposal scenarios of reusable packaging within reuse systems generally happen in a controlled environment since they operate within a system that includes an economic incentive to return the item. So when the packaging reaches its end of life it can be directly sent back to the system operator guaranteeing a safe and clean waste stream. By contrast, single-use takeaway packaging usually is disposed of in mixed waste bins either on the go or when consumed in-house, or littered in the environment.
  4. Support of bring-your-own packaging will not be sufficient to create a transition towards a circular packaging sector: ‘bring your own’ remains a concept for a niche of highly motivated consumers which does not sufficiently contribute to levelling the playing field between disposable and reusable packaging solutions, even if offered a discount, it is often not significant enough to incentive this practice. Therefore, ‘bring your own’ can be seen as a complementing measure to reuse quotas, but it is not sufficient to tackle the increase in single-use take-away packaging.
  5. Safe refilling of reusable packaging is possible in compliance with hygiene standards: The refill either for ‘bring your own’ or for reusable packaging in a reuse system can be well-implemented, taking hygiene standards into account. First of all, the food hygiene legislation (Regulation (EC) 852/2004) already regulates this practice as it covers all aspects of hygiene in all food businesses. Second, within reuse packaging systems the adequate infrastructure/logistics in place guarantees standards for hygiene throughout the whole process (distribution, take-back, washing and refilling of the packaging). 
  6. Paper packaging exerts pressure on forests and is not always recyclable: In the EU, half of all paper produced is now used for packaging with three billion trees being cut down annually around the world to meet the demand for paper packaging. On top of this pressure on forests, paper packaging is often coated with other materials like plastic and aluminium, which not only creates more waste but also hampers recycling. In addition, these packaging is frequently contaminated by food, which makes recycling impossible, so they mostly end up in landfills or incinerated. 
  7. Best Practices for the entire EU – Existing legislation and well-established reuse systems already in place in progressive Member States: Many Member States have already put in place in their national legislation specific measures supporting or mandating reusable packaging for the takeaway and horeca sector, including France, Portugal, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany. Also, many initiatives of reusable packaging for takeaway food and drinks already exist across Europe.
Expert voices from civil society and businesses

Quote from Larissa Copello, Reuse & Packaging Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe:

‘There is proven evidence across the board on the benefits of reuse systems. Reuse systems are already well established in many EU countries, several of which are currently implementing further reuse measures. Also, in the past years we have seen more and more businesses moving towards a reuse model, establishing best practices and effectively reducing packaging waste at local and national level.
On the other hand, the evidence shows that the current EU packaging legislation has failed to address the issue of packaging waste, as recycling capabilities have proven to be insufficient to deal with the sheer amount of packaging waste. We don’t need more data or science to transition to reuse. Now we need action. What are EU politicians waiting for?’

Quote from Fernando Rodríguez-Mata Fernández, Director General New ERA (New European Reuse Alliance):

‘Business forerunners have been laying down the foundations of efficient, convenient and sustainable reuse systems across Europe over the last years, decades in the case of the beverages and the transport packaging sector.
Now, to unlock the potential environmental, economic and social impact of reuse systems, we need an ambitious EU policy establishing high reuse targets. This will push all stakeholders to reassess the status-quo and foster investments into truly closed loops business models that ultimately will benefit the planet, SMEs and communities.

Media contact

Larissa Copello, Reuse & Packaging Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe. Phone: +32 472 56 53 98. E-Mail: [email protected]

Caroline Will, Rethink Plastic alliance Communications Coordinator.
Phone: +32456560705. E-Mail: [email protected]

Rethink Plastic alliance welcomes the EU restriction of intentionally-added microplastics, urges faster implementation

Brussels, April 26, 2023
For immediate distribution

Today, the European Commission REACH Committee voted to adopt the European Commission proposal on the restriction of intentionally-added microplastics. The Rethink Plastic alliance welcomes the restriction of intentionally-added microplastics in products, notably in beauty products and on sports pitches. The alliance regrets, however, that companies are given an excessively long time period to implement the necessary changes. 

For example, make-up products can continue to contain microplastics for up to twelve years after the adoption of the restriction, even though cosmetic companies have stated that sustainable and effective alternatives are readily available on the market. Allowing the marketing of microplastics for use in sports pitches for eight years is unreasonable given the extent of the pollution stemming from this source and that organic alternatives, as well as infill-free sports pitches, are already in use in all EU regions. The exemptions for soluble and biodegradable polymers may result in the continued use of hazardous microplastics.

Each year more than 42,000 tonnes of microparticles are added to the environment, resulting in multiple negative impacts on living organisms and ecosystems. There is mounting evidence that microplastics also pose a significant risk to human health. The alliance has been advocating for the adoption of a fully comprehensive restriction that includes all microplastics including nanoplastics and all non-essential uses in its final scope.

Next Steps

Before the official adoption of these restrictions, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU will have a three-month scrutiny period, after which the Regulation will enter into force immediately. This regulation marks a crucial first step in stemming the plastic pollution problem at some of its sources and can pave the way for more comprehensive and ambitious regulations – such as those expected for unintentionally released microplastics – in the future.

Expert voices

Dolores Romano, Senior Policy Officer for Chemicals at the European Environmental Bureau said:

“This restriction is key to tackling the severe environmental damage caused by microplastics. But the effectiveness of the ban is weakened by the time it actually takes to implement the bans and the exemptions. This prompts us to call on authorities to implement additional measures in their respective countries to prevent further pollution by accelerating the elimination of these plastics.”

Hélène Duguy, law and policy advisor at ClientEarth, added:

“Today’s vote marks a significant step forward for public health and the environment. If implemented effectively, this restriction will prevent a massive amount of unnecessary pollution caused by these tiny pieces of plastics – which we are already seeing on mountains, in the ocean, in Arctic Sea ice, or in our blood. We will put our full support into the implementation of the ban and hope that everyone, including industry actors, joins in the effort.”  

Lucie Padovani, Marine Litter Lobbying Officer at Surfrider Europe added: 

“We welcome this long-awaited restriction, which proves that the urgency to tackle microplastic pollution has been acknowledged by Member States. We now hope that the sectors benefiting from longer transitional periods will meet the restriction targets before the deadline, by already starting to opt for sustainable investments, research, and development”. 

Frédérique Mongodin, Senior Marine Litter Policy Officer at Seas At Risk said:

“This restriction on intentionally added microplastics in products is the first legislative attempt by the EU to prevent the chronic loss of plastic production pellets into the environment. The restriction includes measures that educate pellet users on proper and lossless pellet handling, and that will require annual loss reporting by industrial users. We are now pushing for additional measures at the EU level for the whole supply chain to be targeted and bound to manage pellets responsibly.”

Media contact

Caroline Will, Rethink Plastic alliance Communications Coordinator.
Phone: +32 487 34 72 15. E-Mail: [email protected]

Rethink Plastic alliance disappointed by yet another delay on the EU restriction of intentionally-added microplastics

Brussels, March 2 2023

For immediate distribution

The Rethink Plastic alliance is disappointed by the postponement of a crucial EU vote meant to be held yesterday on the restriction of intentionally-added microplastics.

With pollution amounting to more than 40,000 tonnes of microparticles yearly, resulting in multiple negative impacts on the environment and with growing evidence highlighting the potential of harm to people’s health, the alliance has made their stance clear: the sooner the adoption of a fully comprehensive restriction on microplastics, without detraction or delay, the better. 

Hélène Duguy, law and policy advisor at ClientEarth, said: “Microplastics are wreaking havoc on our environment and this restriction has already been years in the making. We hope this latest delay just means that Member States are making the final tweaks to ensure that the restriction is up to the task. We’re looking forward to seeing a solid restriction adopted at the next meeting.” 

Dolores Romano, Senior Policy Officer for Chemicals at the European Environmental Bureau, added: 

“This restriction is key to tackling the severe environmental damage caused by microplastics. But the proposal weakens the effectiveness of the ban because of the time it would take to implement the restriction in case of certain uses, and also because of the soluble and biodegradable polymers exemptions. We call on Member States to vote for the elimination of these tiny plastics  without delay and prevent unnecessary microplastics pollution.

Lucie Padovani, Marine Litter Lobbying Officer at Surfrider Europe said: “Care brands such as Weleda, Naif and others have recently written to the REACH Committee to support a restriction of intentionally-added microplastics. They’re calling for the restriction to come into force as soon as possible. The restriction of intentionally added microplastics is highly awaited – not only by NGOs, civil society and consumers but also by part of the industry. We sincerely hope that this call for action will be taken into account shortly enough, as every further delay implies increasing impacts on the environment.”

The alliance urges EU Member States to conduct a vote as soon as possible and support a restriction by supporting a restriction that includes all microplastics including nanoplastics and all non-essential uses in its final scope.

For more information contact:  Niamh Cullen, Rethink Plastic alliance Communications Coordinator
+32 497 83 23 24  Email: [email protected] 

Plastic Soup Foundation, Rethink Plastic alliance and 20 cosmetic brands express crucial necessity for complete ban for intentionally added microplastics, as EU vote is upcoming

23 February 2023

The Rethink Plastic alliance, together with the Plastic Soup Foundation and 20 cosmetic brands welcome an expected vote on the European Commission’s proposal on the restriction of intentionally added microplastics, and are calling for them to be banned completely in beauty products

The continuous use of microplastics, including liquid plastics, causes negative and irreversible damage to our ecosystems and may pose a risk to human health. Recent studies found that 9 out of 10 care products still include microplastics. In Europe alone, 7kg of plastics from cosmetics are flushed into the environment every minute. Microplastics have been found in the human blood, lungs and even the placenta.

Nataliya Yarmolenko, Chief Commercial Officer at Weleda says: “Together with fellow microplastics-free brands we urge the European Commission to implement decisive, consistent, and rapid introduction of microplastic-free legislation as a matter of urgency. We feel there is no justification for the exceptionally long 12-year transition period when certified natural cosmetics brands such as Weleda show that working without using microplastics at all has always been possible. We know that consumers share our passion for genuine sustainability, with 90% of shoppers believing ethics-related considerations are important when buying beauty products. The Beauty industry and others needs to prioritize alternatives to microplastics, so that we can move forward as an innovative, collective, planet friendly beauty industry.”

Madhuri Prabhakar, Microplastics Campaigner at Plastic Soup Foundation: “We all deserve to live in an environment free of microplastics, whether on our beaches, in the air we breathe or in our products – especially when microplastics are not necessary. Brands like Naïf, Weleda, Neals Yard, Laboratoire Léa Nature and Beauty Kitchen, who have signed this letter, are sending a clear message to EU Member States: alternatives to microplastics already exist. It is high time the rest of the cosmetics industry embrace those alternatives. There is no reason to delay the EU restriction any further or allow for excessively long transition periods.”

Lucie Padovani, Marine Litter Lobbying Officer at Surfrider Europe said

“As NGOs, it is inspiring to see that renowned brands are demonstrating that not only being microplastic free has been feasible for years, but that it is also a sustainable option – for the environment, for consumers, and for their own viability. We call on European decision-makers to hear their voice and to adopt an ambitious restriction commensurate to the urgency of the plastics crisis”

For more information contact: 

Niamh Cullen, Rethink Plastic alliance communications coordinator +32 497 83 23 24 

Email: [email protected] 

Rethink Plastic alliance applauds historical European Parliament vote passing a full ban on plastic EU waste exports and full implementation of the Basel Convention

Today, the European Parliament voted on the report tabled by MEP Weiss on the Regulation for the shipment of waste. The Rethink Plastic alliance and the Break Free From Plastic movement applaud  the outcome.

“Great joy, the European Parliament’s decision today supporting a phased-in extra-EU/EFTA plastic waste export ban is welcomed. Many of us across the world have worked tirelessly to highlight the unparalleled body of evidence and real-world experiences that demonstrate that the plastic waste trade is harmful and exploitative. Another important step to ending waste colonialism.” – Lauren Weir, Senior Ocean Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency   

“The European Parliament has shown today that it takes protecting member states from illicit waste shipment seriously. We are happy to see this strong stance on intra EU shipments of plastic waste that seeks to finally make the EU compliant with international rules set by the Basel Convention. Now the member states have to honour this ambition.” – Theresa Morsen, Waste Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe 

“European waste export has not gone without great costs to the environment and human health. Today, the EU Parliament has paved the way for a more responsible, more transparent and better enforced waste export policy. The groundwork is now laid for EU countries to restrict a kick-the-can-down-the-road approach in the global waste management system, prioritise waste prevention and seize the opportunity for EU to preserve precious secondary raw materials.”

Stephane Arditi – Director for Climate, Circular Economy and Industry at the European Environmental Bureau

For more information about waste trade and the revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation: : 

Rethink Plastic alliance Press Release 16 January 2023: NGOs advocate for full ban on plastic waste exports from the EU as new report finds receiving countries’ recycling capacities overburdened



Niamh Cullen, Communications Coordinator at the Rethink Plastic alliance [email protected] +32 497 83 23 24 

Lauren Weir, Senior Ocean Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency

[email protected]

Theresa Mörsen, Waste Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe [email protected] 

For further information: 

NO TIME TO WASTE: NGOs advocate for full ban on plastic waste exports from the EU as new report finds receiving countries’ recycling capacities overburdened

Brussels – 16 January 2023

NGOs are calling for the European Parliament to vote for a full ban on extra-EU/ European
Free Trade Association (EFTA) plastic waste exports and the full transposition of the Basel Convention plastic waste amendments within the EU.

In addition to the environmental and human health harm brought about by the plastic waste
trade and the presence of illegal waste shipments facilitated by legal channels, recycling capacity displacement is another important facet factor highlighting why both such measures are necessary within the latest revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Rethink Plastic alliance (RPa) new
report “Plastic Waste Power Play: The offshoring and recycling displacement
involved in trying to recycle EU plastic waste
” shows that EU plastic waste exports are
taking up limited plastic waste recycling capacity in recipient countries.

The vast majority of plastic has never been recycled, and the exporting of plastic waste from
high-income, high plastic consuming countries also helps perpetuate the linear status quo,
rather than prioritising the reduction of plastic consumption.

The European Parliament is set to vote on the Waste Shipment Regulation this week. The
Rethink Plastic Alliance and Break Free From Plastic movement therefore recommend that
the European Parliament Plenary supports the outcomes of the ENVI Committee vote,
including voting in favour of a full ban on plastic waste exports outside of the EU and EFTA,
in addition to a full implementation of the Basel Convention within the EU.

Major exporters of EU plastic waste such as Germany, the Netherlands, France, and
Belgium are not only prolific consumers of plastic, but also take advantage of the possibility
to export plastic waste in order to try and achieve their recycling targets.
However, the report highlights how this results in the recycling capacity of recipient
countries being inundated overwhelmed and the possibility of recycling their own
domestically- generated plastic waste is thus jeopardised,- resulting in recycling capacity

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, such as
Turkey, non-OECD countries, such as Malaysia, and certain EU Member States are
recipients of EU plastic waste and not only bear the brunt of significant environmental and
human health harm resulting from these shipments.

For example, in 2021, 35 per cent of the 1,135 million kilos of EU plastic waste exported went to Turkey alone. Imported plastic waste made up 78.7 per cent of Turkey’s recycling output volume, with 58 per cent of those imports coming from the EU. Simply put, without having to recycle the plastic waste of high-income countries, these countries would also have greater capacity to recycle domestically generated plastic waste.

“These findings seek to demonstrate yet another harmful outcome from this plastic waste
trade. When EU plastic waste is actually recycled within recipient countries, they displace
recycling capacity for domestically generated plastic waste and they facilitate the
continuation of high-levels of EU plastic consumption,”
said Lauren Weir, Senior Ocean
Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency.

The report also highlights that the exploitative power dynamics occurring globally within the
plastic waste trade occur internally within the Union as well and this is why adequate intra-
EU safeguarding policies – including the full transposition of the Basel Convention within the
Union – are crucial. RPa is very concerned by attempts to remove these vital measures,
which must be retained to ensure that the Basel Convention is correctly and legally applied
within the EU.


For more information contact:
Niamh Cullen, Communications Coordinator at the Rethink Plastic alliance
[email protected] +32 497 83 23 24

Lauren Weir, Senior Ocean Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency
[email protected] +44 20 7354 7984

Theresa Mörsen, Waste Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe
[email protected]

European Parliament’s ENVI Committee Breaks Free from the harmful Plastic Waste Trade in full extra-EU ban

Brussels  – 1 December 2022 

In a landmark decision, the European Parliament Environment (ENVI) Committee voted today in favour of a ban on EU plastic waste exports and stronger safeguarding measures for intra-EU plastic waste shipments.

The Break Free From Plastic movement and Rethink Plastic alliance have strongly advocated for the EU to end the export of plastic waste outside the Union and EFTA, to both OECD (e.g. Turkey) and non-OECD (e.g. Malaysia) countries. This is due to the unparalleled body of evidence and real-world experiences that demonstrate that this trade causes environmental and human health harm in recipient countries.In 2021, EU plastic waste exports to all countries amounted to 1,135 million kilos, with 43% of said exports going to non-OECD countries and 35% going to Turkey. Certain EU Member States have even been increasing their plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries and Turkey in 2022

The ENVI Committee’s decision to support a ban on plastic waste exports is a landmark moment in EU policy making. The export of plastic waste from high-income countries, like EU Member States, is unethical and exploitative. That this has been recognised is a great step forward, it is now imperative that the European Parliament Plenary and Council follow suit.” said Lauren Weir, Senior Ocean Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency. 

Theresa Mörsen, Waste Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe said: “A ban puts the onus of treating waste on the EU Member States and paves the way for more effective management of waste as well as encouraging plastic use reduction via reuse and prevention instead of offshoring this toxic burden.” 

The vote is also welcomed by members of the Break Free From Plastic movement in receiving countries of EU plastic waste.

“This vote will protect communities who have had to bear with pollution from plastic waste exported by rich industrialised countries for decades, especially in Asia. Mismanaged foreign plastic waste has contaminated our lands, food, water, and air with microplastics and toxics. People living around these sites helplessly watch their family members fall sick – across generations. This is an urgent matter of environmental injustice. Europe should account for the real cost of its plastic waste,” said Pui Yi Wong, Waste Trade Project Coordinator at Break Free From Plastic Asia Pacific.

As thoroughly evidenced by Rethink Plastic alliance members, the ban would address issues recipient countries face as a result of plastic waste imports, in addition to the fact that plastic waste exports are a pathway thoroughly exploited by waste criminals and drive domestic recycling capacity displacement in recipient countries. However, it is not just destination countries outside of the EU that fall victim to the negative impacts of this trade. Many EU Member States are also suffering, in part as a consequence of a growing number of countries closing their borders to EU plastic waste. Hence the Waste Shipment Regulation must outline adequate safeguarding policies to protect all EU Member States. 

One such essential measure the EU can put in place for intra-EU shipments of plastic waste is the full transposition of the Basel Convention, namely the requirement of Prior Informed Consent from a receiving country for a plastic waste shipment that is mixed, contaminated and not destined for recycling – given it is more vulnerable to mismanagement and illegality. Fortunately, today, the ENVI committee decided to put an end to the damaging exception to this Basel Convention requirement the EU currently has in place.

With the first Global Plastics Treaty negotiations currently underway in Uruguay, the next two years will be crucial in framing a global, legally binding agreement to solve the problem of plastic pollution. One of the key solutions is to reduce plastic production in addition to redesigning materials, products and systems, which would also prevent plastic waste generation. The ENVI Committee’s vote today shows that the EU is on its way to acknowledging how plastic waste exports act as a loophole, also enabling the continued high levels of EU plastic production and consumption.  

The European Parliament plenary will vote on the Waste Shipment Regulation in January, with the Council to also set its position early next year.



Niamh Cullen, Communications Coordinator at the Rethink Plastic alliance [email protected], +32 497 83 23 24 

Lauren Weir, Senior Ocean Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency

[email protected]

Theresa Mörsen, Waste Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe [email protected] 

For further information: 

The Truth behind Trash – Environmental Investigation Agency 

The Health Impacts of Plastic Recycling in Turkey – Human Rights Watch 

The Plastic Waste Trade ManifestoBreak Free From Plastic

Indonesia Waste Trade Update 2022: Focusing on Plastic and Paper Waste in Indonesia – Nexus3 Foundation  

Malaysia is Not a “Garbage Dump” – Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism

Discarded: Communities on the Frontlines of the Global Plastic Crisis – Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

Strong aim, but more ambitious and timely action needed – Rethink Plastic alliance welcomes EU circular economy package

November 30, 2022 

The Rethink Plastic alliance welcomes the European Commission’s circular economy package, with proposed reuse targets and strengthened measures for plastics, packaging and waste.

The European Commission has published today its second Circular Economy Package, including initiatives on packaging and biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics [1]. The publication of a proposal for a Regulation on Green Claims, expected since 2020 and to be part of today’s package, has been postponed again to early 2023. 

Provided they are followed through with appropriate ambition, the proposal and communication released today could go a long way in reducing packaging consumption and pollution by addressing unnecessary packaging, scaling up reuse systems, and preventing regrettable material substitution. Yet, the alliance regrets that the proposal on green claims was postponed, as it is urgent to end unfounded sustainability claims from companies. 

The alliance welcomes the unprecedented focus on prevention and reuse in the proposed EU Packaging and packaging waste regulation (PPWR), which sets the conditions for packaging to be allowed on the EU market. The proposal notably sees new reuse targets by 2030 and 2040 for different sectors, including the beverage sector (soft and alcoholic beverages), the take-away sector and e-commerce. The alliance regrets however that the initial ambition on reuse targets  was watered down under industry pressure, with major beverage companies still coming out as top plastic polluters globally.

Larissa Copello, Consumption and Production Campaigner at Zero Waste Europe: ‘The proposal lays down crucial packaging and packaging waste reduction and reuse measures, but falls short of its objective to achieve 100% reusable or recycling packaging by 2030. Large-scale implementation of reuse packaging systems across Europe requires more ambition, and targets should be higher and broadened to other market sectors to ensure true circularity, driving investments in the right direction.’

The alliance also welcomes that the European Commission is taking action on biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics, which are too often wrongly presented as a solution to the plastic pollution crisis. The proposed EU policy framework on biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics aims at providing a harmonised EU approach with regard to these materials through providing recommendations on the sourcing, labelling and use of bio-based plastics, as well as on the use of biodegradable and compostable plastics. 

The communication, which is not legally binding, notes the importance of respecting the waste hierarchy and that priority should be given to material use reduction and circularity.It notably makes it explicit that no claims should be made on the biodegradation of litter-prone products, including products covered by the Single-Use Plastics Directive. However, it does not set a clear path of regulatory action to ensure that the principles are followed. The alliance regrets some inconsistency of the PPWR with the welcomed careful approach taken in the policy framework as far as biodegradability and compostability of packaging are concerned.  

Gaëlle Haut, EU affairs coordinator at Surfrider Europe, said:

“The Commission’s communication brings clarity on the challenges and uncertainties posed by bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics and their use. Further action on biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics is needed though to reflect the urgency to transition to a zero pollution, climate-resilient and circular economy – and should take the form of legal measures and robust safeguards to address both their single-use nature and our reliance on toxic plastics .” 

Ioana Popescu, Head of Circular Economy at the Environmental Coalition on Standards said: “For bio-based plastics, the message is clear: preference should always be given to longlasting, reusable products because their potential sustainability credentials are directly reversed when these are used in short lived applications such as single-use packaging.  ” 

The proposed Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation will be discussed and amended in  the European Parliament and the Council (i.e. Member States) from early 2023, with negotiations expected to conclude late 2023 – early 2024.  


Notes to editors

[1] Communication of he Commission on biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics available here

Proposal for Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation available here

Commission Press release: European Green Deal: Putting an end to wasteful packaging, boosting reuse and recycling available here

Reaction of the Environmental Coalition on Standards available here

Reaction of European Environmental Bureau available here

Media contact 

Niamh Cullen, Communications Coordinator at the Rethink Plastic alliance [email protected], +32 497 83 23 24 

Expert Contacts


Larissa Copello, Consumption and Production Campaigner at Zero Waste Europe

[email protected] 

Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, Deputy Policy Manager for Circular Economy European Environmental Bureau

[email protected]

For biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics 

Ioana Popescu, Head of Circular Economy at the Environmental Coalition on Standards

[email protected]  

Gaëlle Haut, EU Affairs Coordinator at Surfrider Foundation Europe

[email protected] 

For further information: 

Realising Reuse report – Rethink Plastic alliance

A Just Transition to Reuse – Rethink Plastic alliance,

Too Good To be True? Green Claims report – Environmental Coalition on Standards

Fifty shades of Ocean (plastic) washing briefing – Surfrider Foundation Europe, Rethink Plastic alliance
What the EU can do to reduce single use packaging and plastic pollution in food services? policy briefing – Surfrider Foundation Europe, Rethink Plastic alliance