European Parliament wants more reduction of packaging waste

On 3 September 2002, the European Parliament gave strong support to the Corbey report on packaging and packaging waste, demanding stricter rules on recycling.

In their vote on the report by rapporteur Dorette Corbey
(PES-NL), the MEPs approved several amendments to the original
proposal by the Commission:

  • the minimum recycling target by weight for packaging materials
    contained in packaging waste is to be increased from 50 (the
    Commission’s proposal) to 65 per cent;
  • the targets of 60% for energy recovery and the Commission
    figures for recycling, i.e., 20% for plastics, 50% for metals, 55%
    for paper and cardboard and 60% for glass, were left
  • the maximum targets for recycling proposed by the Commission
    were removed;
  • from 1 January 2004, new packaging is to be put on the market
    only “if the producer has taken all necessary measures to minimise
    its environmental impact as far as possible without compromising
    the essential functions of the packaging”;
  • a broader revision of the directive to introduce elements of
    sustainable development and integrated product policy (IPP) is to
    be presented by 1 January 2005;
  • the targets are to be met by 31 December 2006 (two years
    earlier than the date proposed by the Spanish Presidency’s at the
    Environment Council in June). Greece, Ireland and Portugal are to
    be granted a delay of three years until 30 June 2009.

The Parliament rejected a more radical proposal
by the Green/EFA Group (which received support from the
Parliament’s Environment Committee), calling for the amount of
packaging waste generated to be cut by 10 per cent compared with
1998 levels.


rapporteur Mrs. Corbey welcomed the overwhelming
support for her proposals. "The huge support for my report sends a
clear signal that the European Parliament considers that the
question of packaging and waste packaging should be treated with a
serious and modern approach with firm deadlines for
implementation," she said.

Green MEP Patricia McKenna (Ireland) regretted
that the proposal on concrete reduction targets for packaging waste
were not adopted, "though it is perfectly feasible to reduce
packaging waste effectively. Austria, Denmark and The Netherlands
have reduced their waste by 10% between 1997 and 1998".

CIAA, the EU Confederation of the Food and Drink
, in a first reaction, regretted the vote in the
parliament. According to CIAA, "recycling 65% of packaging by the
end of 2006 is an unrealistic target". Mr. Raymond Destin, Director
General of the CIAA, said: "Today's vote in the European Parliament
did not take into account the considerable efforts that the food
and drink industry has already made regarding the prevention and
recycling of packaging. A recycling target of 65 % would lead to
costs for the industry that are disproportionate to the benefits
for the environment".

British Retail Consortium (BRC) also reacted with
disappointment to the Parliament's vote. In a press release, the
organisation warned that "UK retailers could be faced with huge
additional costs for complying to packaging regulations1 as a
result of the European Parliament vote to accept unrealistic
recycling targets at the European Parliament". It also called the
2006 timeframe for delivering the targets unrealistic.

For an overview of the institutions different
demands, see



The Commission proposed in December 2001 a limited review of
Council directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste. This
directive aims to harmonise national measures on the use of
packaging waste to ensure the smooth functioning of the internal
market while at the same time providing a high level of
environmental protection. The Commission's proposal was limited to
a revision of the recycling and recovery targets. The figures
proposed by the Commission are 55 per cent for recycling and 60-75
per cent for recovery.


The Environment Council will most likely adopt its
conclusions on 17 October. The proposal will then go to a second
reading in the Parliament.



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