Packaging is the single largest contributor to climate change. Can it be eliminated?

Imagine a world without packages, boxes, or bags - not even one for your toothbrush?

Waste

There might soon come the day when we can live in such an environmentally friendly way that no packaging exists.

Climate change happens with an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, burning of fossil fuels, and any process that increases the level of carbon dioxide and temperatures that are emitted.

Packaging is an unavoidable part of life - it is a necessity for most products. Unfortunately, it is also one of the worst offenders when it comes to climate change.

Packaging materials are often made from plastic and other materials which take hundreds of years to break down in natural environmental conditions. This means that when these materials enter our environment, they remain a contributing factor to their destruction for a long time. Improving product packaging solutions is vital if we want to reduce our impact on the climate crisis and create more sustainable practices.

Businesses must work together in creating innovative solutions that drastically reduce the use of single-use plastics, such as biodegradable and reusable materials.

The European Packaging and Waste Directive

The European Packaging and Waste Directive, which was established in 1994, seeks to reduce the amount of packaging waste produced throughout Europe. This directive is a crucial part of helping European countries achieve zero waste goals and contributes significantly to the EU's effort towards a circular economy.

It strives to optimise the consumption of materials and energy to reduce waste generation, avoid hazardous ingredients in packaging materials, promote reuse and recovery of packaging and most importantly, establish minimum standards for separate collection of packaging waste.

This directive is an important example of European countries working together on environmental initiatives that have an impact on sustainability outcomes.

Changes to the Directive

Europe is readying a revision of its packaging and waste directive. The European Commission has commissioned research that highlights the positives, negatives, and benefits, as well as the ‘grey areas' for each type of packaging format available in today's market. This includes packaging made from all types of materials including paper, plastics, glass, and raw materials.

This new law will create a more sustainable future for consumers, but still, allow them some control over what they buy by choosing whether it's recyclable when returning or upgrading products.

The European Commission has found that regulation is necessary to both stop unnecessary packaging and make sure that the packaging which does exist can be recycled.

Waste in Europe - The Statistics

The European Commission is not happy with the amount of waste that's being generated in Europe. They say it has increased by 15% over five years, which means there are now more than two billion tons per continent. Most countries struggle to keep up with less than 10% of countries meeting targets set down under new legislation designed specifically for this problem.

Europe generates a whopping 1.6 billion tons of trash every year and it's only getting worse! The European Commission has developed some interesting stats on the topic which show that one-third of this waste comes from households, one-third from industry, and the rest via other categories, which include commercial activities such as retail and restaurants.

There are lots of people that are employed within industries who have lots to do with managing waste products as part of their job description and the statistics show why this is the case.

A staggering 174.1kgs of waste was generated in Europe last year, per inhabitant. According to the European Commission, there are a few ways they plan on reducing this amount by 2030 including “revisions” (or updates) regarding their current plastic packaging laws as well as stricter recycling standards for all sorts of products made from paper such as cups & straws, etc.

Stakeholders had their say in public consultation and one of the most discussed topics was whether to prioritise certain types of packaging over others.

The environmental impacts and damage to the planet on how much packaging exists and the impact it has when it reaches landfills continue to be looked at by scientists.

To read more about recycling and packaging please visit our website.

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