Growing demand and competition for resources globally are putting increased pressure on the environment and costs. To stay globally competitive, the EU is focussing on resource efficiency as a so-called Flagship Initiative under its EU 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It seeks to drive sustainable economic growth by integrating resource efficiency across policy areas, such as waste, industry, raw materials and agriculture. It marks an important turning point in EU environmental policy, which previously focused on specific environmental issues in isolation.
The European Commission’s Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe explains how policies are interrelated and sets milestones, one of which is that disposal of edible food waste in the EU should be halved by 2020. With regard to packaging, it calls on Member States to assess actions to optimise the resource efficiency of packaging and packaging waste by 2020. It states for instance that improving packaging for better preservation and recyclability, reducing food waste and using recyclable packaging are topics that should be addressed by EU policies.
The Roadmap goes hand-in-hand with the Commission’s proposal for a Seventh Environment Action Programme (7EAP), which is a framework that discusses how policies fit together and sets out nine priority objectives for EU environment policy up to 2020. One of the priorities is to turn the EU into a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy. Relevant for the packaging supply chain is that the action plan aims by 2020 to safely manage waste as a resource, decrease waste generated per capita, limit energy recovery to non-recyclable materials and to effectively eradicate landfill of recyclable and compostable materials.
EUROPEN supports the aspirational goals to move towards a circular economy in a more resource efficient Europe by 2020, as introduced in the Roadmap.
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A detailed analysis of European packaging and packaging waste statistics from 1998-2010. This analysis shows that growth in packaging waste is clearly decoupling from economic growth. Despite a 17.5% per capita increase in household consumption expenditure on food and non-alcoholic drinks between 2000 and 2010, an ageing population and a trend throughout Europe toward smaller households, all leading to the purchase of a greater number of packaged goods, the amount of non-wood packaging placed on the market in the original EU-15 member states rose by just 5.6% over the same period.
Read the press release and download this 46 pages document.