As part of the Green Deal, the European Commission has said, in the long-term, 25% of the EU's budget should be dedicated to climate action
The European Commission’s Green Deal has now been launched – drawing up a roadmap towards a more environmentally-friendly economy in the EU.
The plan, which was presented in December 2019 and covers all sectors in the economy, is a central part of the bloc’s ambition to make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
In order to achieve all its climate objectives, the European Green Deal requires an additional €260bn ($288bn) of investment over a sustained period of time.
The commission says that, in the long term, at least 25% of the EU’s budget should be dedicated to climate action, with the European Investment Bank providing further support.
After a debate over the legislation opened on 28 January, ahead of an expected proposal by March, we look at what the European Green Deal could mean for the packaging industry.
What is the European Green Deal?
President Urusla von der Leyen said: “The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy – for a growth that gives back more than it takes away.
“It shows how to transform our way of living and working, of producing and consuming so that we live healthier and make our businesses innovative.
“We can all be involved in the transition and we can all benefit from the opportunities.
“We will help our economy to be a global leader by moving first and moving fast.
“We are determined to succeed for the sake of this planet and life on it – for Europe’s natural heritage, for biodiversity, for our forests and our seas.
“By showing the rest of the world how to be sustainable and competitive, we can convince other countries to move with us.”
Within 100 days, the commission is expected to present the European Climate Law, enshrining a legally-binding target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In order to reach its climate and environmental ambition, it will also present the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, a new Industrial Strategy and Circular Economy Action Plan.
The commission’s executive vice-president Frans Timmermans added: “We are in a climate and environmental emergency.
“The European Green Deal is an opportunity to improve the health and well-being of our people by transforming our economic model.
“Our plan sets out how to cut emissions, restore the health of our natural environment, protect our wildlife, create new economic opportunities and improve the quality of life of our citizens.
“We all have an important part to play and every industry and country will be part of this transformation.
“Moreover, our responsibility is to make sure that this transition is a just transition, and that nobody is left behind as we deliver the European Green Deal.”
From tackling over packaging to separate waste collection, we look at some of the proposals set out by the European Green Deal.
What will European Green Deal do to improve waste management?
One of the key linchpins in changing waste management and packaging laws proposed by the plan is the introduction of a new action plan for the circular economy – where a product is designed for reuse.
Designed to create a new policy framework to encourage markets to develop climate-neutral and circular products, it will focus particularly on resource-intensive sectors such as textiles, construction, electronics and plastics.
The plan will include a “sustainable products” policy to support the circular design of all items based around common principle, prioritising the reduction and reuse of materials before recycling them.
To do this, the commission will set minimum requirements designed to prevent environmentally harmful products from being placed on the EU market.
Alongside this, extended producer responsibility – where manufacturers pay for the cost of disposal – will also be strengthened.
In an effort to simplify waste management for citizens, the European Green Deal proposes an EU-wide separate waste collection system, with the commission also revisiting laws around waste shipments and illegal exports.
The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation’s (EuRIC) president Cinzia Vezzosi said: “Recycling industry is eager to work with the commission services, the European Parliament and the council of the EU to turn the ambition of the European Green Deal into reality and deliver a Circular Economy Action Plan 2.0 that addresses a number of challenges impacting the recycling industry.
“Meeting the objectives of the Green Deal requires deeper co-operation across value chains; EuRIC is fully committed to play its part.”
European Union to make all packaging either reusable or recyclable by 2030
In order to make packaging products more environmentally-friendly, the EU will develop requirements to ensure all items in its market are either reusable or recyclable by 2030.
The commission wants to bring in legislative targets and measures looking to tackle issues of over packaging and waste generation.
It will also consider implementing legal requirements designed to boost the market of secondary raw materials.
This would involve having a set amount of recycled materials in products such as packaging, vehicles, construction materials and batteries.
Following up on its plastic strategy, the commission with focus on implementing measures to tackle intentionally added micro-plastics and any unintentional releases of plastics in products like textiles and tyre abrasion.
Alongside this, it will develop a regulatory framework for biodegradable and bio-based plastics.
The EU will also implement measures on single-use plastics, although no further details have been given to what this might entail.