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This week, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) placed science and common sense back at the heart of Europe’s circular economy.

In a decisive plenary vote (426 votes in favour, 125 votes against and 74 abstentions), MEPs adopted amendments to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), bringing balance to the proposal by positioning the EU to advance in the fight against plastic waste.

The European Paper Packaging Alliance (EPPA) commends the collaborative efforts of rapporteur Frédérique Ries and all MEPs for their commitment to advancing packaging circularity and bolstering collection and recycling initiatives by setting ambitious targets.

Particularly noteworthy are the introduced definitions of high-quality recycling and composite packaging as well as the principle of complementarity between reuse and recycling. These provisions acknowledge and safeguard the investments and achievements of the value chain in separate collection and recycling.

By stipulating that packaging collected at a rate of 85% or more should be permitted on the market as well as by removing the bans in Annex V, MEPs have not only prioritised the best environmental outcomes but also upheld the proper functioning of the single market and the protection of consumer safety.

Speaking immediately after the vote, Matti Rantanen, Director General of EPPA highlighted:

“Today’s clear vote represents a significant step towards a truly circular economy which will enhance the EU’s strategic autonomy, environmental performance and economic resilience.

Independent, peer-reviewed studies have shown that renewable and recyclable paper packaging yields better environmental outcomes in the food service sector compared to reusable alternatives. It is very promising to see a large majority of MEPs endorse the importance of recycling, by agreeing that where packaging is collected at a rate of 85% or more, it will be permitted on the market.

As we approach the European Council’s vote, we call on Member States to mirror the constructive approach of the European Parliament and to adopt a science-based and balanced strategy for packaging waste reduction – one that is firmly rooted in real-world data, the latest scientific evidence and the best environmental outcomes.”

EPPA’s President Antonio D’Amato likewise welcomed the result of the plenary vote stating:

“In the lead-up to the plenary vote, the European Parliament analysed an astonishing 530 proposed amendments. Having scrutinised the PPWR proposal document, the overwhelming majority of MEPs voted in favour of every one of these amendments based on scientific evidence and real-world data, following a pragmatic, fact-based approach.

This consensus was accompanied by a clear recognition that we can achieve ambitious objectives without compromising the principles of technological and material neutrality which have long been a cornerstone of the European circular economy model.

The triumph of pragmatism and scientific reasoning in the plenary vote sets the course for a more sustainable and economically competitive Europe that also delivers stronger consumer health assurances. We hope that Member States will now follow suit in their own analysis and decisions.”

As EU Member States prepare to adopt their common position on 18th December, EPPA urges them to acknowledge the European Parliament’s strong majority in favour of this constructive compromise text.