As statistics show, every European inhabitant produces 173 kg of packaging waste every year. The only way to address this problem is with waste prevention measures that stop packaging waste from being produced in the first place, alongside measures to support business models that are waste-free by design, like packaging free and reusable systems. That’s why Zero Waste Europe, in collaboration with Réseau Vrac, commissioned a study to Eunomia, to understand the state of art of the packaging free world as it stands today.
Moving the EU single market away from disposable packaging and towards waste prevention and reuse, is a clear objective of the European Commission, as outlined in the current packaging and waste directives, as well as expressed in the Communication on the European Green Deal and the new Circular Economy Action Plan. Moreover, in the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy (5), the EC asserted that “by 2030, all plastics packaging placed on the EU market is reusable or easily recycled”.
Nevertheless, the current EU market is flooded with single-use packaging which ends up being landfilled or incinerated with great environmental and economic impacts.
In order to achieve the EU objectives and move towards a real circular and waste-free economy, the European Commission should adopt a set of robust measures to support upstream solutions, including expanding the costs covered by EPR schemes and introducing incentives for packaging free and reusable business models to overcome barriers to entry.
“Efforts to move away from disposable products and reduce packaging waste generation will only happen if the biggest barriers for waste prevention and reuse are addressed. Making packaging-free products and reusable systems mainstream will require the creation of a level playing field with disposable packaging, while today the latter fails to fully internalise the costs”. Commented Larissa Copello, Consumption and Production Campaigner, Zero Waste Europe