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EU to curb packaging waste

New legislation applicable to all member states

The European Commission has proposed a slew of new policies to combat packaging waste, including a goal of making all packaging recyclable by 2030, as well as incentives for reuse and refilling.

Because the EU has documented a significant increase in packaging waste and litter over the last two decades, the proposed revisions to EU legislation on packaging and packaging waste have been brought forward. According to official 2020 figures, 35% of packaging waste was landfilled, littered, or burned to generate energy from waste.

The new proposals aim to reduce packaging production in the first place, improve recyclability, and expand the market for recycled content. The overarching goal is for EU member states to reduce packaging waste by 15% per capita by 2040, compared to a 2018 baseline. The European Commission will form an expert group to help with the certification’s development. Its first meeting is scheduled for early 2023.

Some packaging formats, such as packaging used to house beverages, will need to be made fully recyclable by 2030, under the proposals. The EU has stated that there will be applications for compostables that are not recyclable, but that these applications will be “extremely limited”. There will also be an overhaul of recycling labels to help boost recycling rates,
with the same labels set to be used on all bins across the bloc.

Maldives welcomes waste imports!

Detrimental move for climate-sensitive country

The Waste Management Act, signed into law by Maldives President Ibrahim Solih, raised serious concerns about the rights to health and a healthy environment, as well as the government’s obligation to address climate change.

Section 44 of the law allows waste to be imported into the country. On November 28, 2022, Parliament rushed through an amendment to the bill without any public consultation, despite strong opposition from environmental groups, which had pushed for a ban on the importation of any type of waste into the country.

Activists urged President Solih not to sign the legislation. While the government attempted to justify the policy by claiming that “waste is seen as useful, particularly for generating power,” incinerating waste poses a number of risks, primarily from harmful emissions and toxic byproducts such as bottom ash.

Maldives has a history of disregarding its own environmental regulations and impact assessments, and it does not adequately monitor air emissions to ensure that waste incineration causes minimal environmental damage or endangers the health of local communities.

The Maldives will attend the United Nations Human Rights Council, where the government has promised to prioritise climate-related issues. According to the foreign minister, “the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is death” for the low-lying Maldives. Aside from the effects on human health, waste incineration emits greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change.

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