Paper and cardboard require functionalisation so that they can be used in contact with food. Functionalisation may include adding a barrier function to water, grease, gases, etc. This is mainly achieved through the use of plastic, i.e. the combination of polymer(s) + additive(s). Paper and cardboard food packaging are therefore not free from plastic. As such, most paper and cardboard packaging remain at the same level as “single-use plastics”, as defined in the European Directive on Single-Use Plastics.
Single Use Plastics Directive Implementation Assessment Report February 2024 Focus on Extended Producer Responsibility schemes on tobacco-related products
Cigarette buts are the most commonly found litter worldwide in clean-up activities with over 4.5
trillion estimated to be discarded annually. Cigarette butts are found in almost all environments:
they are found massively along roadways, along waterways, on the beach but also in parks and
playgrounds, and in cities. As our citizen science projects prove, cigarettes have constantly been
the number one litter item picked up on European beaches, in city streets or along water bodies
during the Surfrider Europe’s Ocean Initiatives: 2,409,580 cigarette butts were collected in 2022
(1). In 2022, cigarette butts were collected in 89% of our operations and there were 1072
cigarette butts counted on average at each clean-up organised that year. And in every country
where Ocean Initiatives took place, cigarette butts were found. At global level, of the 137 million
cigarette butts discarded onto the ground every day, 40% end up in the oceans.
A new report by the Rethink Plastic Alliance, European Environmental Bureau, Zero Waste Europe, Fern and the Environmental Paper Network reveals the environmental harm caused by replacing single-use plastic with single-use paper packaging. The report clearly shows the need to move away from ever-polluting single-use packaging and towards well-designed reuse systems. The NGO coalition calls on the EU to seize the opportunity the Packaging and Packaging Waste regulation offers, and implement the necessary changes.
This briefing focuses on non-governmental organisations’ (NGOs) position on the recent devastating increase in paper packaging. For the wider NGO position on EU packaging rules please see the position paper developed by the Rethink Plastic alliance.