Civil society, businesses and cities put pressure on the EU to choose reuse for the reduction of packaging, waste and pollution
Press Release Date:
Break Free From Plastic campaign, #WeChooseReuse, delivers signatures to EC Vice President Frans Timmermans in the run up to the revision of the Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive
Brussels, Belgium – Citizens, businesses, cities and NGOs throughout Europe are calling on the EU to adopt legislation that supports reuse systems, notably for packaging, in order to reduce resource use, waste and pollution and achieve a circular economy. On the 12th October 2022, the Break Free From Plastic movement will hand over signatures collected by the #WeChooseReuse campaign, to European Commission Vice President, Frans Timmermans, and MEP Fréderique Riesas, as part of a campaign action outside the European Parliament in Brussels.
The handover event marks a major milestone of #WeChooseReuse. 100,875 individuals, 165 NGOs, 295 businesses and 34 municipalities signed the #WeChooseReuse commitment, demonstrating the need for EU policy to match the growing demand for reuse systems across Europe.
Almost all sectors are dependent on single-use packaging, with plastic being one of the main packaging materials. Production of packaging and packaging waste has steadily grown over the past 20 years and in 2018, Europe saw a record 174 kg of packaging waste per person. To counter this growing issue, #WeChooseReuse urges national and EU decision-makers to make reuse the new normal by harmonising packaging types to enable the scale-up of refill and reuse systems such as Deposit Return Schemes, and restrict the use of certain single-use packaging, especially where reusable products are possible.
The signature handover comes in time for the much anticipated revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD), which will clarify the extent of the EU’s ambitions towards reuse by outlining requirements for packaging design and reduction in packaging and packaging waste.
Break Free From Plastic and its members have consistently called for the PPWD to support a just transition to reuse systems for packaging, including a cap on overall packaging decreasing over time, binding reuse targets, economic incentives and support for reuse and refill systems. Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden also called for the adoption of reuse targets at the EU level earlier this year.
“The devastating impacts of the dependency on single-use plastics and packaging are clear – yet so are the solutions. They fit in two keywords: reduction and reuse!” said Justine Maillot, Policy coordinator of the Rethink Plastic alliance. “With the upcoming revision of its main legislation on packaging, the EU has an opportunity to end overpackaging and make reuse systems the new norm for packaging. Effective reuse systems across Europe would greatly reduce resource use, packaging waste and pollution while also contributing to reducing oil and gas consumption. Yet such systems can only blossom if the EU and EU governments adopt measures to enable reuse and create the confidence for reuse infrastructure to be built across Europe.”
The PPWD revision will additionally lay the ground for businesses and cities, both of which have been strong proponents of the #WeChooseReuse campaign, to strengthen the implementation of reusable systems and shift dependency away from single-use packaging.
“Whilst EU and national regulations are needed to create a harmonised framework for reuse, it is at the local level where change is truly embedded within societies. The municipalities which have signed the #WeChooseReuse commitment show that we have an alternative to the status quo. Together with our Zero Waste Cities, these signatories are showcasing practical examples of how reuse models are more cost-effective, healthier and better for the environment and communities.” said Jack McQuibban, Zero Waste Cities Programme Coordinator, Zero Waste Europe.
“Many countries are showing that they want to go far beyond in minimising packaging and single-use plastics either by passing their own regulations or by asking the EU to set ambitious targets. Nature is at stake. The sea has no barriers, neither has marine pollution. If we want the EU to be a single market, it cannot be a single-use market. We urge the EU to stop the abuse of single-use products – we choose to reuse and reduce.” said Natividad Sánchez, Plastics campaign director, at Oceana in Europe.
Break Free From Plastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 1,900 non-governmental organisations and individuals from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. These organisations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision. In Europe, Break Free From Plastic has more than 100 core member organisations covering all European subregions and with expertise all along the plastics value chain.
#WeChooseReuse is a European led #breakfreefromplastic campaign, born out of the movement’s wish to push for ambitious and robust reuse solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. Together with over 50 NGOs, it calls for robust reuse systems benefiting people and the environment to be put in place across Europe. The campaign engages with decision-makers, businesses, municipalities and the wider public to advocate for a future where reusable packaging is scaled up and robust reuse systems are put in place.