This included defence of the single market for packaging and packaged goods and explicit recognition that food hygiene, consumer safety and public health imperatives must be taken into account when regulating environmental aspects of packaging.
Commission Vice-President Timmermans, speaking in Strasbourg, said the Commission was fully aligned with the adopted position of the European Parliament.
A new attempt by the Greens to promote the introduction of national restrictions on specific packaging was rejected. The Parliament’s vote sends a clear message to the French government. The latter has put in place a controversial ban on disposable plastics tableware that is illegal under EU rules, according to Pack2Go Europe, the association of food & beverage service & convenience manufacturers in Europe. Based on this Strasbourg vote, it would appear that a majority of MEPs agree that there is no room for national restrictions.
“We now have the weight of the entire European Parliament and the Commission against the sort of politically motivated, impractical ban that is supposed to come into force in France in 2020 against disposable tableware,” says Mike Turner of International Paper Foodservice Europe and current chairman of Pack2Go Europe. “MEPs have understood that the EU needs a single market for packaging and packaged goods and that disposable food and beverage service packs are indispensable in guaranteeing food hygiene, consumer safety and public health in many aspects of modern life.”
Attention now shifts towards the emerging position of the 28 EU member countries. In this respect, the European Parliament also issued a mandate to a negotiating team to start informal talks with the EU Council of Ministers (i.e. the member states) to start the process of shaping a final legislative package for adoption later this year. Parliament and the 28 EU member states share equally the decision-making power over the final content of the law. Rumours abound that some governments do not support the single market approach that was backed so firmly by MEPs and the Commission in Strasbourg this week.
MEPs were voting on a bundle of legislative proposals from the European Commission designed to modernise EU waste rules, make them more coherent and promote the development of a circular economy in Europe.
“Pack2Go Europe has worked tirelessly to explain to MEPs that our packaging is indispensable to the way people live today. That work must go on. The real challenge we must all face up to – packaging convertors, food service operators, government and consumers – is the need to facilitate more and better collection and recycling of our packs and prevention of littering,” said Turner.
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